12:00 Friday 20 December 2013

Police are getting tough on stalking

Written byJENNY MOODY

STAFFORDSHIRE Police said it does not take stalking lightly – days after a jilted lover was jailed for bombarding his former partner with letters, gifts, messages and phone calls after she ended their relationship.

The force’s chief superintendent Juliet Prince said officers take incidents of stalking very seriously with new legislation helping officers to battle the problem as some seemingly innocent actions can have devastating effects on the victims.

She made the announcement less than a week after Shaun Gorman, of Ashbourne Road, Uttoxeter, was jailed for six weeks after admitting harassment of Gina Butler in Burton between August 1 and October 15.

Ch Supt Prince said: “It can have a personal impact on the victims because some of the activities can seem quite innocent in their own right, but it’s that constant worry about what’s going to happen next.

“Is it going to escalate and is it going to end in physical violence?

“Historically it has sometimes been difficult to prosecute. Some of these activities could seem innocent.

“Just being in the same street as someone can be difficult to prove but we have new legislation to help with this.

“Facebook has opened up a new area for harassment. People can become obsessed with people they don’t know or have never met.

“It’s a problem that’s not going to go away.”

Gorman was in a relationship with Ms Butler since 2012 after he left his partner of 25 years to be with her but it broke down that Christmas before they continued to see each other on an on-off basis.

The relationship ended again in July 2013.

Helen Newport, prosecuting, told Burton Magistrates’ Court the 43-year-old continued to call his victim and the police issued him with an order to stop pestering her.

But, he continued to call her, drove past her house, left voicemail messages and unwanted gifts.

On October 15, he visited her house and knocked on the door. Ms Butler was upstairs and only went down when she thought he had gone.

However, she found him peering through her living room window shouting her name – so she again called the police.

He was also seen regularly driving past her house, following her around shops and even following her friends around.

As a result of the harassment, Ms Butler said she was scared, was off work sick due to stress and could not leave her house when it was dark.

Mark Aspden, defending, said: “He has now come to his senses that the relationship is over.

“This was probably some sort of a breakdown as the relationship ended around the same time he lost his mother.

“He accepts ignoring the original harassment notice and her wishes but he felt everything was falling apart around him.

“However, Mr Gorman never once threatened Ms Butler and his notes were simply expressing his love.”

As well as jailing Gorman, magistrates issued him with a restraining order not to contact Ms Butler on his release.

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