Column: Stalking can have deadly repercussions

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Some people go to real extremes to monitor their ex-partner. But being concerned for someone and stalking them are two separate things. Stalking has been in the news lately thanks to recent anti-harassment laws.

Robert Perry, 47, was one such man who found himself on the wrong side when he became convinced his ex-wife was in a new relationship. Not only did he send her insulting text messages, he also installed spy devices inside her home.

Sadly, her living nightmare became so unbearable that it ended with her death

Even worse, he used their children to monitor her movements. Despite admitting one count of stalking, invoking fear and violence, a judge at Oxford Crown Court spared him jail. Instead, Perry, of Warborough, near Oxon, was sentenced to nine months imprisonment suspended for two years.

But why do Perry, and other men (and women), feel its necessary to stalk their victims? It's hardly going to make them run back into their arms, is it? With access to social media and apps specifically designed to track people, it's hardly surprising that stalking is on the increase. But it can have serious repercussions on the victim. In a historic legal first, a serial stalker who drove his ex-partner to take her own life after bombarding her with abusive voicemails, texts, and Facebook messages, was jailed for 10 years after admitting manslaughter.

Prosecutors brought a charge of unlawful killing against Nicholas Allen, 47, following an inquiry into the suicide of Justene Reece. Stafford Crown Court heard how 46-year-old Justene tragically hung herself in February. It was only after her death that a heartbreaking note was discovered saying she had ‘run out of fight.’ Allen had pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to charges of manslaughter, coercive behaviour and stalking, accepting that his abuse had led to Justene’s death.

Only last year, she’d fled to a Women’s Aid refuge, but Allen bombarded her with calls, texts, and threats. He also stalked five people close to her to try and track her down.

When Justene moved back to her hometown of Stafford, Allen tracked her down. After she’d taken her life a diary was found. It chronicled her torment and Allen’s campaign against her. The judge called her ordeal ‘a living nightmare’. It was. Allen had made 3,500 attempts to contact her in a campaign that had lasted six months. Sadly, for Justene, her living nightmare became so unbearable that it ended with her death.