A single mum has spoken of her ordeal at the hands of a ‘stalker’ who left her fearing for her own and her child’s safety.
Katharine Brown has bravely relived her experience in a bid to encourage other women to summon up the courage to report similar incidents to police.
The 38-year-old says her life has changed forever and she dare not walk alone in the dark or visit play areas unless she is accompanied.
New stalking laws came in to force in November last year, but previous legislation meant that the man responsible for pestering her could only be prosecuted for harassment.
He received a fine and a restraining order.
Katharine, of Epworth, said: “It’s good it got to court, but he just walked free.
“He said he had an infatuation with me. But his behaviour could not be classed as normal. I was so scared, all the time. And still I have to look over my shoulder. A chain of bizarre incidents during Katharine’s weeks of terror were ‘circumstantial’ evidence only and could not be proved by police.
They included objects being moved around her garden, branches wedged across the front of her door, and seeing the man hidden in bushes opposite her home.
The worst incident, she said, was when a shotgun was left on the doorstep of her home for her to find when she opened the door in the morning.
“I would tape up my letterbox each night, terrified a fire might be started in my home,” said Katharine.
Her torture first began when the man came in to the pub where she worked.
Katharine added: “I’ve been in the business a long time and know how to deal with customers but this was something entirely different.”
He was cautioned to keep away by police, but was seen near Katharine’s home by others, and twice on one day posted items through her door.
“That seemed like a warning - that I shouldn’t have got the police,” said Katharine.
The man was finally arrested in December.
When taken to court he was sentenced to a two-year conditional discharge and restraining order and ordered to pay costs of £85.
“The irony is, I grew up in the Isle and came here after living in Sheffield to give my son a safe environment, near to my family. But I never felt so frightened in the city,” said Katharine.
“I was not threatened physically but mentally all this took a real toll.
“Stalking is a serious crime. To me, the gun on my doorstep was a threat to my life or my son’s. It was not an active gun but it looked it on first sight.
“I don’t feel the sentence was enough. I want to know why this man acted as he did. If he has mental health issues then are they being dealt with?” A spokesman for Humberside police said that the case was dealt with as harassment, as it occurred before the new stalking laws were introduced.
She added: “Police enforce laws using the powers that are available to them.
“We investigated all allegations and the case was brought before court and dealt with as harassment as per the law at the time. He was fined and given a restraining order and the case was concluded. Unfortunately much of the evidence was circumstantial and could not be proved.”
It is estimated that one in six women is pursued by a stalker at some point in their life.
The new laws mean those convicted of stalking by harassing, following or spying on people face up to six months in prison.
Meanwhile those who are convicted of stalking with the threat of violence face up to five years in jail.