This is to give you an idea of what happened to me, please note, it may be distressing to some.

 

At the beginning of November 1992 I was a happily married 24 year old living with my husband in Hampshire and working at a local Naval Base. By the end of that month I was withdrawn, terrified, and on sleeping pills thinking I was going mad. It was the start of an ordeal lasting nearly ten years.

I had befriended Anthony Burstow two months earlier, a work colleague who was very much a loner and permanently depressed. His wife, also called Tracey, was in the Navy as well but stationed in Hong Kong. I had tried to help him and he came out for the evening with myself and my husband on a couple of occasions. He did not seem to want to help himself, but I kept trying. I began to see him outside or driving by wherever I was going of an evening be it aerobics, or evening classes at Fareham College. This began to worry me, but I thought it would go away. One morning, my car tyre appeared to have a puncture. I walked to work in torrential rain and later on Burstow insisted I loan him my car keys to go and mend the puncture for me. Unfortunately, my house key was attached to my car keys. Looking back, I believe he took this opportunity to obtain a copy of the key to my house.

I got so tired and frightened of seeing him around, that one day when I found him parked outside my home after following me from work, I went out and told him to go away, in stronger words. This he did. I informed my bosses who ordered him to stay away from me. The next day, a Saturday, my diary reads as follows:

21 November 92 ­ Saturday

Andy, my husband, goes to rugby as usual just after lunch.
PM ­ 2 ‘phone calls, no one there. A little while later the doorbell rings a few times for long periods ­ through spyhole I see it’s Burstow. For some reason I feel terrified, why is he here, he has been told to stay away from me, he’s disobeying orders??? I take the bread knife (I don’t know why) and go upstairs and try ringing around friends, no-one is in. Later, when I reckon he has gone away, I get in the car and go for a drive, to get out. On the first main road I drive along, he is coming the other way, I turn right into Carisbrooke Road towards the house, he is following me. After a while he turns off, I then just drive for a while and eventually go home. About 20 minutes later, his car is in our Close. Get through to Charlie Nunn who comes around. Burstow has gone by then. Charlie puts me in my car and sends me to the rugby club to tell Andy what has happened in the last few days. I had thought the problem would go away and didn’t want to worry him. I tell him what has happened. Charlie rings Burstow’s Divisional Officer to inform him of the happenings ­ he advises us that if he should come near, to call the Police.

After this point I became very paranoid as personal items of mine began disappearing from my home, and appearing at work. An example of this is, when I went to take my contraceptive pill one night I saw that the last 3 in the packet were missing. 2 later appeared at work on different occasions. One lying on my desk, the other put in my coffee mug. There was never any mail waiting for me at home. Answerphone messages had been played. I thought I was going mad. After all, things like this only happen in films. I know differently now. I began having counselling sessions weekly. After all, how do I go to the Naval Authorities or Police and tell them all this. They would surely have had me sectioned ­ I doubted my own sanity. My suspicions were confirmed when I left to go to work one morning, I found an item of my underwear that had been taken from my drawer draped over the wing mirror of my car. Silent phone calls happened every day, unsigned cards came through the post. Everywhere I would go, Burstow would be there already. I would scream at the walls telling him to go away, wondering how on earth he knew so much and why was I losing it. My husband and I tried to carry on our lives as normal, although I would keep all the curtains shut and be frightened to go outside the door. I went onto sleeping pills, as every single day something would happen. He seemed to know everything about my life. The Navy told me they could deal with it but by January 1993, the police were called in. I will not say much about my bosses, but being told to ‘be mature about it’ certainly did not help and the words ’emotional paranoid female’ are still ringing in my ears. I went to the police station to make what was to be a 17 page statement on what was happening. When I came out at 7 o’clock that night he was there waiting for me and tried to follow me home. The police cautioned him. Things did not get any better and 3 days later Burstow was arrested for breach of the peace and bound over for 2 years. 16 days later I was called to court to give evidence against him for breaching that bindover, as I had caught him walking about 300 yards from my home which was a couple of miles from his, at 10.30 at night. It was my first time ever inside a courtroom and, obviously I was in a bad state, as well as knowing I had to face him. I later learned that he had been let off because of MY nervousness in the witness box – is that really justice?

Life carried on as normal, Burstow was everywhere we went, silent phone calls, unsigned mail, I had oil poured over my car on 2 occasions. The second was recorded on surveillance camera and came 12 hours after another court order had been issued to him.

Following on, it came to light that he had researched my family tree and was also pestering my family, my husband’s family and any of our friends that became involved. Things got so ridiculous, especially as there was nothing in the law to stop what he was doing.

In September 1993 he was bailed not to enter Hampshire yet every morning I was seeing him watching me collect my paper from a local shop. I called the police every morning, yet they could not find him. We later found out that he had been using a scanner to listen to police messages to avoid capture. On 8 September 93 my diary reads:

0755 I get out of my car at the Carisbrooke shops to collect the paper I see Burstow standing at the end of the row of shops, watching me. I continue walking into the newsagents and ask Mr Patel, the owner, to ring 999 as I just didn’t know why he was being so blatantly obvious, knowing he shouldn’t be in the area as his bail condition stated. I wait in the shop until a policeman arrives, (one of the few Gosport policemen not aware of my situation!) he then takes details and asks me to accompany him up to where Burstow had been standing, we do this and carry on around the back of the shops and back into the car park when I see a flash of maroon dart down an alley. We run down the alley and turn right into another alley, up ahead is Burstow just strolling along with a bottle of water, as if nothing is wrong. I wait and watch while Burstow is arrested. The policeman and Burstow start walking towards me so I just run back into the paper shop and wait a short time until I think the coast is clear. He is put back in Winchester Prison.

0900 Eventually get into work. When the mail arrives a short time later there is an envelope addressed to the department which I am suspicious of. I open it carefully and find 3 copies of a crossword, which on reading the clues, most I recognise as personal details relating to myself and my family, as well as Andy’s family. They are each addressed to Charlie, Jim and Kev. Charlie accompanies me to take them to the Police.

Can’t take anymore. See 2 counsellors and go to the Doctors for more sleeping tablets to make me feel better.

He was eventually imprisoned for 6 months for pouring the oil over my car. We were very relieved at this point, as we were going on holiday to South Africa for a month and he had already threatened to burgle the house while we were away. We flew out on 14 October and had a wonderful holiday, knowing he was locked up at home.

We arrived home and found the glass had been taken out of our lounge window, personal items were missing, family photographs and our wedding video had also gone, as well as damage to water pipes. We were then told he had appealed against his conviction and been released, without the police being informed, THE DAY AFTER WE LEFT TO GO ON HOLIDAY. He had also managed to rent a house less than 500 yards away from ours. Part of my diary for that day reads:

10 November 93

Return from holiday well rested, although Andy and I had a lot of tension to get rid of, we realised we had forgotten how to live a normal life, and not worry about who was in the bushes, or were we being followed. Further on it reads ; another thing which broke my heart was that our wedding video has gone. We can easily get a copy, but that is OURS and IT has taken it and probably seen it with his grubby little eyes. We call the police, Linda comes out to take details and statements. Gives me a big hug. The window is boarded up and Andy will have to take the rest of the week off so the glass company, forensic and police can examine the place. We all know who’s done it.

Because of the hard work of Hampshire police, overwhelming evidence revealed that Burstow had committed the crime and he was eventually sentenced to 18 months in prison. We continued to receive mail and silent calls from prison. Another thing which makes me angry – as a taxpayer I was paying for them.

It was whilst Burstow was in prison that computer disks were found with him and decoded. It confirmed that all my paranoia and suspicions at the start of his campaign against me were true – he had logged all the details down, as well as puzzles and crosswords all relating to my life and family. He had placed listening devices in our sofa and bed and my office at work which was how he was finding out so much. He had also tried to pay someone to shoot my husband. This was too much to comprehend. This was worse than a film as I couldn’t find escape from it or go back to reality because it was all fact.

It was while he was in prison that we decided to move house as discreetly as we could. 10 days later we started to receive unwanted mail, some came addressed to my counsellor. In some way he had found out our address from prison, there was no escape.

Before his release from prison a month later, the police installed surveillance cameras in case of problems. This was just as well as 5 hours after he was released from a prison on the Isle of Wight he was filmed outside our home. For six days he was outside every day, driving or on foot. He was filmed disappearing into a neighbour’s garden at midnight and reappeared about 40 minutes later. I called the police after checking the tape before I left for work – they drove by him as he lay in wait for me to go. He was then arrested outside my workplace later that day. I then had to prepare for another court case . . .

It was during this period that my husband realised he could not take anymore. He had already beaten Burstow up when we found him creeping towards our house one night when it first began, to no avail. He did not know what else to do in order to protect me. He couldn’t cope anymore with my changed personality and depression. So he left, and never came back. We divorced a 12 years ago, ­ I have never heard from him or his family since he left. After he had gone, I had no option but to move back to live with my parents in Berkshire. The silent calls and unwanted mail continued at my parents all the while Burstow was on remand.

By February 1995 the charge had been changed. He would be tried for Grievous Bodily Harm (Psychiatric Injury) – which was to be a test case. After much trauma and adjournments, due to Burstow’s behaviour and stalling tactics and taking full advantage of his rights, the case went ahead. Unfortunately, because of the charge being so fragile, he literally walked out of court behind us, a free man.

Incidents resumed daily. Sightings, notes, phone calls, all from the village where I live – over 100 miles from his home. Again, despite trying hard, the police could do nothing. They just had to let him get on with it until he committed a crime in the eyes of the law. On 20 May 95 my diary reads :

Mum opens a BT envelope which had come in the mail. Inside was a malicious calls leaflet and a printout telling her that engaging mouth before brain will get her into trouble. Is it still a good game and hilarious? (He obviously doesn’t like her laughing at him down the phone!) I receive 2 packages but notice that the name and address are in the same typewritten print as the BT envelope, so I put on the rubber gloves. Inside one is a printout asking if I miss my old life and a reminder is enclosed. There are, what looks like a whole film of photos of my house in Gosport, aerobics class, several places we used to go (and others I have never been to). The other envelope contained a ‘soiled’ sanitary towel wrapped inside a printout saying ‘Never trust anything that bleeds 3-5 days every month but doesn’t die’. Message left for police.

He eventually did break the law which the police were able to prove – he stole underwear off of my family’s washing line. He was then arrested. He obviously denied everything. And some of his excuses were ludicrous. One excuse he used for a silent ‘phone call he wrote in an affidavit relating to civil proceedings I was taking against him reads:

With regard to paragraph 11 of the Plaintiff’s affidavit I believe that I spoke to the Plaintiff’s mother on 4th June 1995 at work and at home. In fact my recollection is that Mrs Morgan did most of the speaking and she told me amongst other thing to ‘drop dead’. I telephoned again the following day, June 5th 1995 and on that occasion the Plaintiff answered the telephone. I remained silent on this one occasion because I had been expecting Mrs Morgan not the Plaintiff and was taken aback. I have already admitted this to the Police. I deny making any other ‘silent telephone calls’.

Had this not been so distressing, some of his excuses are laughable.

The Thames Valley Police then, under the guidance of the Hampshire Police, started compiling evidence for another charge of GBH (Psychiatric Injury). This time, it paid off. On the 4 March 1996, after 6 days of legal argument, he pleaded guilty at the last minute and was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. A victory at last. A fortnight later Diana Lamplugh, Assistant Chief Constable of Sussex, Maria Wallis, the 2 Hampshire detectives who had worked on my case from the start and myself all met in London to launch a campaign for a specific stalking law. This was backed up by a documentary that Yorkshire Television’s 3D programme had done about my story.

After much campaigning the Government finally listened and brought in the Protection from Harassment Act in June 1997 10 days before Burstow’s release from prison. I had been told that he was coming out under licence not to enter Crowthorne or Bracknell, or contact me in any way. If he breached this licence, he would go straight back to prison and finish the rest of his sentence which was about 18 months. I had made a conscious decision that once he had been released I would not be speaking out at all, despite requests for media interviews, so that I could not be accused of provoking him. Time and again I have been advised that if I don’t speak out or do anything he might go away. Believe me, we tried it so many times, when were people going to realise that it didn’t work, he just increased his activity. All went quiet, or so we thought, until my 30th birthday in January 1998 when I received a blank birthday card, a couple of days earlier the silent phone calls had resumed. Obviously we could not prove anything, but knew that we had to be on our guard for whatever game came next.

This happened a fortnight later. As my boyfriend was taking me to see friends in a hotel in Bracknell having come to my party the night before, he opened his car door to find that ‘someone’ had wedged dog excrement up under the handle. We all knew who had done it. My nerves by that point were jangling. The next night, a Monday, I went for a hypnotherapy session to relax me and also to bring my intuition out. People have found my instinct incredible when it comes to knowing he is around without having seen him. This has also been known in other stalking cases, ­ unfortunately at the time put down as paranoia.

On the Wednesday I came out of work and felt a ‘prod’ in my back and a voice in my head telling me to ‘be aware’. On my way home in a traffic queue, the car behind would not come right up to the back of me. The voice in my head was telling me to look at the driver, to get out and video the car behind, video the driver. I had been carrying my video camera around with me to help gain evidence. By now I was thinking that I was a complete loony tune, finally lost it. Not bad after 5 years of it I suppose. I put my foot on the brake which illuminated the car make and registration number, but as it was dark and raining, I could see no more. All the way home then, I felt more in control than I had done in years, because after all this time I knew, deep down, where he was. Right behind me.

When nothing is happening to stalking victims, please do not tell them it is a good thing. You see victims are in a catch 22 situation when the stalkers are free, but not doing anything, their victims feel so helpless not knowing if or when the next thing will happen. It is like walking along the edge of a cliff, not knowing if today will be the day someone pushes you over. Having to be prepared every day, every night, just in case. We are willing something to happen just so that we know where our assailants are, and so they can be caught and locked up and so that we can concentrate on trying to live life and not just survive it.

The following night I saw a car parked on my way home from work warning bells rang as it was similar to that from the night before. After calling the police, who waited a few hours, Burstow came out of the woods and got into the car. He was then arrested. Cheers went up with relief when we knew he would have to go back and finish the rest of his sentence­ a bit more freedom!

The police also charged him with harassment and GBH Psychiatric Injury again. My faith in the Criminal Justice System was nil, by this point, yet still there continued to be many incidents and mistakes that literally cost me my freedom and viciously tested my sanity. For example; it came to light over the subsequent weeks and months that when he came out of prison, he refused to sign the conditions of his licence. For the last 6 months of his sentence he had refused to see, or speak to his probation officer. Forgive me for asking but is this the ‘good behaviour’ that was required? Why was he still allowed out? At the committal hearing, because his probation officer did not turn up, the court crossed the breach of prison licence off the list of charges. He had got away with it yet again.

 The breach of licence charge was eventually reinstated but rather than giving me 18 months more freedom and punishing him, he was fined £500 which equated to one day’s sentence. This was at the 3rd attempt to hold a Hearing as he had ‘not been taken off the bus’ the first time when it called at Windsor Magistrates Court, he was taken on to Reading by mistake. The 2nd attempt he denied knowing anything about any summons or breach. Third time ‘lucky’. We tried to investigate what went wrong. The answers we got from the Prison, Premier Prison Services ­ the transport and the Court all deny responsibility, they just blame each other.

At that same original hearing the harassment charge was also dropped due to lack of evidence. Silly woman, fancy getting in such a state over this man following her one night and being parked near her home the next. Don’t forget, my rights didn’t count, his did;­ no-one was allowed to know the history of the case and what this man had done to me for the previous 5 years. The fact that he had over 20 convictions relating to his stalking of me was irrelevant in the eyes of the law. Another point I would like to make is that every court hearing is an endurance test, whether victims are called or not. I am ready to take the legal system to court for psychiatric injury, as it seems to have done almost as much damage.

I was advised on numerous occasions to take civil action when the law wasn’t there to help me. I would not recommend it at all, the victim is the one who pays, the offenders uses excuses and rights to cause problems and adjournments, all at cost to the victim. I fought a battle with the Legal Aid Board for 4 years, which came to light, because my solicitor at a time when I was trying to take civil action against Burstow in 1993, did not advise me of the consequences of refusing an offer of Legal Aid; I could not afford the repayments. ­ I was apparently liable for work under Legal Aid, even though I had been paying a private account to the solicitor who was fully aware I had not accepted it. Every time Burstow contacted my solicitor, either by phone or letter,­ guess who picked up the bill? ­ Me. They did not give up the fight even though solicitors who helped formulate the law as well as my MP, tried to intervene. I guess I was an easy target; a law- abiding, working, taxpayer. I wonder if they would have been as relentless in their aim to get money out of me had I been an offender, perhaps ‘languishing’ in prison? I had to send a cheque to the Legal Aid Board just before Christmas 1999 for just over £2000 to prevent my name being blacklisted. I did get it back eventually, by taking the solicitor to court, yet another court process which I could have done without.  Why should I have had to?  Victims should not have to do this, it is so unjust.

At the trial in August 1998, the Prosecutor took me into a room to tell me that the trial for GBH (Psychiatric Injury) would not be going ahead. I was told that I should take credit for the law being there as it had helped a lot of people, that I had had 7 months of peace while he had been locked up, and as it had not got any worse for me, I took that to mean the fact I had not been raped or murdered, why could I not just put up with it? And this person was supposedly on my side! How can he legitimately be when he obviously had absolutely no concept of what I and my family were going through? What hope have other victims got?

The reason for that case not going ahead was because the Defence had asked to see all my medical records. My psychiatrist’s report, his being there in person to enter the witness box was not enough for them. I refused ­ how much more of my life had to be exposed and ripped to bits? I am sure you can guess the answer I would have had if I had asked to see any of Burstow’s details!!

The trial for the Harassment charge took place in November 1998. He was bailed not to enter Berkshire, despite pleas that he wanted to live in Slough, Berkshire, even though he had no previous connection with the county. At the pre-trial hearing in the September he applied to change his bail condition by saying that he was working for his father, who lives in Kent and, amazingly enough, had a pub refitting job to do in Slough, so in order to work he will need to enter Berkshire ­ the change in his conditions was granted to him, he was then allowed back into the county.

We tried desperately to find out if anyone followed this up and actually checked to see if he was telling the truth, asked to see a contract, but everyone I spoke to said that it was someone else’s job. Mum and I had a day in Slough checking all the pubs, we never did find one being refitted. We asked the people supposedly on my side, the police and CPS, for the name of the pub to check it ourselves,­ but were asked what business was it of ours? Why were we anticipating him starting again? We didn’t need to know, and when I asked for confirmation and evidence that he was telling the truth because I thought he was lying and getting the conditions changed to test them ­I was simply asked the question; does it really matter? Yes. It does. As for anticipating, after 6 years of this, I think we were justified, don’t you? He was testing the system and getting away with it. Some people didn’t seem to see this, or did’t want to. It would be too much work to challenge the system. Because of this attitude I had to go back to my doctor’s and be prescribed anti-depressants.

What emotions go through victims just beginning their trauma if they are not being listened to? One summer Sunday a few years ago, I got myself in such a state over the tension of trying to sit in my back garden and enjoy the sunshine, knowing I could be being watched, and the frustration that no matter how hard I tried to tell people what I am going through, people were hearing me, they just weren’t listening. That’s what the feeling is when a victim feels so isolated against the legal system. It would have been so easy to give up even then. Had I not been so strong, after fighting for so long, had this been beginning then, I would have just given up out of sheer desperation, isolation and fear.

Eventually Burstow was found guilty of Harassment in November 1998. The sentencing to take place on 4th January 1999. It was hanging over us for Christmas.

After spending Christmas dreading the 4th January’s sentencing, the day finally arrived. He was sentenced to 16 weeks imprisonment ­ something I had not been expecting, but was extremely relieved about. I immediately knew that I had to halve that to get the real sentence; 8 weeks. I finally had some freedom and justice. In addition to this, a restraining order was attached banning him from the county of Berkshire and from contacting myself and family and friends or holding paperwork relating to us. This I also had to insist on, as the Defence wanted all the names and addresses of everyone he wasn’t to contact. I pointed out that there were far too many people, and you can guarantee the person | leave off or forget will be the person he targets. Another point was that any names and addresses of family and friends he doesn’t know about will be provided to him by the court!

The day after the court case I spent quietly, starting to recover, as I always have to as it takes so much out of me. The next day was my birthday, again gaining strength to celebrate quietly. I returned to work on the Thursday to try and get back to normal and to start enjoying my freedom. On the Friday lunchtime,­ that is 4 days later which is 96 HOURS after being given peace of mind for 8 weeks, I was told that Burstow would be applying for bail pending Appeal on the following Monday. Peace of mind gone. Justice gone. The legal system had done it yet again, kicked me in the teeth, taken it all away by giving him the right to apply to be released so soon after being found guilty and sentenced.

We spent that first weekend of our supposed freedom not knowing if by Monday we would have it all taken away, will we need to be on our guard, will the house be safe, will we all be safe? Monday was stressful, anticipating that call, trying to do a normal day’s work and be professional about it when every ring of the phone could be bad news. The call came, giving some relief as he had been refused bail. The Appeal was to be on the Thursday,­ 3 days later, still no peace of mind as we had to prepare ourselves for his possible release again. On that Thursday I went through the same emotions/procedure,­ trying to remain professional and calm, yet nerves so taut and adrenalin pumping with every call. Again, the call came . . . Had I got my peace of mind and justice back? Will you be surprised if I tell you that the legal system was working in the same old way. He had now decided to appeal against sentence AND conviction and had demanded a complete retrial which could take place the following day. I thought about it and decided I wasn’t going to jump to the snap of his fingers. I would not be available as I had work commitments, another thing the legal system does not take account of ­ the fact that some of us have lives to try and get on with. Fortunately it was rescheduled for the following Friday ­ the 22nd January ­ ironically a year to the day he had been arrested ­ it had taken me almost a year to get justice, yet he could be released within days. Something which actually happened on Monday 18th Jan, 4 days before the retrial. He was released on bail. WHY????? Why was my freedom taken away so soon, especially knowing he was going to put me in the witness box AGAIN ­ he has a choice whether he goes in the witness box. If I don’t when requested to, I will be arrested.

The day of the Appeal arrived, by then we were all nervous wrecks, knowing he was out, knowing we were going to have to go through the whole trial again, because he wanted us to. Another question I would like to ask ­ if he hadn’t been found guilty at the trial, would I have been able to appeal? I expect you know the answer,­ don’t forget, I’m only the victim, I have no say. The Appeal lasted all day, I was in the witness box before and after lunch, nobody had been to see us beforehand ­ the first time the Prosecution spoke to the witnesses was in the witness box. We had not been reassured or even spoken to by what is, in effect, my solicitor, unlike Burstow, who, no doubt had been fully briefed on what would happen, or what he would like to happen and during the lunchtime I could not eat anything, or indeed talk to anyone about it. The other witnesses were called and did very well, I don’t know what I would do without their support, and of course, family and other friends and supporters. After sitting there until 5.20 in the evening, having had to be there for 10am, and finding out that he had researched public records for more family, friends, neighbours and witnesses and had been keeping an observation log of my home since July 97;­ 3 weeks after his release from prison, the Judge and Magistrates dismissed the Appeal and upheld the Restraining Order. We had relief at last, but at what cost. When I came out of court I could not string 2 words together I was so exhausted. Why had I had to go through it all again? How many more times will I have to? In March 99 he was released. I was back at square one. Waiting.

During the filming of a documentary which was transmitted on August 10th 1999, called ‘I’ll be watching you’, I was privileged to be able to go and see first hand how San Diego deals with stalkers. I came back from that trip a different person, although it had been very difficult for me, so very frustrating, as well as learning so much, knowing that mandatory psychiatric assessment is in place, seeing how differently victims are treated – the system allows them to be human beings with emotions and feelings and rights, ­ victims haven’t been allowed any in the English Legal System, they are just something that comes along with a case. I came back with hope that we could learn something, ­ we must. The System has to change. It is, slowly changing, people are beginning to realise the injustice of the current ‘justice’ system.

As a result of that film, we learnt, by accident, that Mr Burstow has changed his name by deed poll, to that of my ex-boyfriend. At the time, the CPS claimed that it’s not a breach of the Restraining Order because he has ‘his liberty’ to do that. Also, even though he is subject to the Order, he does not have to notify anyone that he has changed his name or identity. The fight continues. Still with the System and him. After over a year of the police and ourselves challenging the CPS decision, the committal proceedings for the Breach of Restraining Order took place in March this year. Mr Hurdle or Burstow wanted to have a committal whereby all the statements are read out in court. As this was going to take about 3 hours, the earliest date available was originally the 19th January 2001. More waiting, another Christmas of anticipation . . . On 19th January we arrived at court and waited 2 hours until he arrived. We were then advised that the Defence and CPS had decided that they hadn’t booked enough court time and also thought that it would be better heard in front of a District Judge rather than Magistrates so it was all going to be adjourned until 21st March. Does the legal profession really think people are stupid? They knew full well weeks before that they had not booked enough time ­ why the hell bring it all to court and ensure I am put through the trauma of waiting when they are just going to say that it’s all off and come back in a couple of months – they clearly have no concept of the damage being done to victims and their families every time this happens. The hearing actually took place on 21st March, ­ it took about 10 minutes . . . The trial for the breach of restraining order WAS set for 10th September 2001, more than 2 years since it was first reported.

The reason I say “was” is because on the last Saturday in November 2000, I was in Cardiff giving a talk.  My mum received a call from the police advising her that Burstow had been arrested for attempted murder.  She went cold ( to put it mildly).  What I had predicted for 8 years had come true.  I was lucky, it wasn’t me.  It was a woman called Lorraine who had befriended him – not knowing about his past – his change of name being an easy option for him.  Sadly, she got taken in by his intelligence, quiet and caring nature.  Her son arrived home hours early from work to find his mum in the house screaming; he couldn’t get in because Burstow had double locked the doors and was trying to strangle her, he then set to work with a stanley knife telling her they were going to die together.  Lorraine’s son smashed the kitchen window.  Whilst struggling as Burstow held her arm on the draining board as he worked, he slipped on the blood all over the floor. Lorraine then dived out of the window with her hand hanging off.  That action saved her life, although she still doesn’t know whether she will have the use of her hand back even after several operations.  On July 4th 2001 Burstow was jailed for life for attempted murder, having to serve a minimum of 7 years and because he is now deemed so dangerous it will only be the decision of the Home Secretary as to if and when he is released.  God forbid this EVER happens.

 

When I returned home from Cardiff that day in November and was told what had happened, to say I was angry would be an understatement.  WHY had people not believed me, WHY did it take someone almost dying before Burstow was deemed dangerous. Maybe if I’d fought harder Lorraine would still have the use of two hands and not have all the mental scars.  Maybe if the CPS had taken the breach of restraining order seriously Burstow would have had his court case and been serving a sentence in that November.  Maybe if the legal system takes account of personality disorders, Burstow would have been locked up for treatment.  It’s time that this country thought about the civil liberties of the innocent law abiding people and victims of crime, rather than worry about the rights of offenders.

 

Another thing which upset me was that, because there were injuries to show for what Burstow had done, it was deemed by some to be far more serious.  Because I couldn’t have bandages round my mind, I have nothing to show for what this man has done to my life.  Mental scars need to be seen.  The day he was locked up people said I must be ecstatic.  In August 2001 I had a breakdown.  It finally all caught up with me.  I didn’t know how to cope with life not having to worry about using my survival instincts every moment of the day, I have had to learn to live again and not spend life looking over my shoulder.  All I could do for a year is look at the wreckage of the last 8 1/2 years and mourn all I’ve lost, what I’ve had to change and the damage it’s done.  I didn’t see friends, use the phone and was on tablets trying to recover from this attack.  I still have my moments and have to take it easy.   People said go out, get a job, start living because they can’t see the scars and the healing that’s going on.  If I’d broken my leg I’d have a plaster on – they wouldn’t say it because the evidence is visible.  Lorraine has also said that her physical wounds are healing but she doesn’t know if the mental scars will fade. 

 

People said to me:  Why did I campaign for a stalking law, when the law was obviously there  to deal with stalkers once the Psychiatric Injury charge was successful. My argument is that there is also absolutely no justice in putting a victim through so much that they become damaged psychologically before a charge can be brought.  Stalkers build up their power, knowing they can get away with it, then they cannot stop.  That is why the Harassment law should nip it in the bud before they have a chance to feel power.   I believe people have a right to go outside their front doors without wondering if there will be phone calls, obscene mail, confrontations and leave them desperately wondering if they are going to survive the day instead of living it.  There is a restraining order attached to the harassment charges within the new law.  It is imperative these are used to try and give some protection to victims.    Why can we not have a country that is safe and happy place where people fear and respect the law instead of just laughing at it. We don’t want revenge – we just want it to stop, and to feel safe. 

 

When a case goes to court, it is actually the victim who is on trial. All along it was MY diary that was examined and ripped to bits, MY actions and movements that required justification.  At a hearing in the Civil Court in Winchester, after seeing evidence I had gained from videoing Burstow around the corner from my home, asleep in his car, the Defence said to me “ Mrs Sant, do you mean to tell me that you deliberately went off your normal dog walking route ( I wonder how she knew this!) armed with a video camera looking for my client?”  All I could answer was ‘yes!’  She was then lost for words! 

 

There is so much more I could tell you, so many incidences and injustices.  I hope I have given you a better understanding of just what stalking is. What it is like for the people I represent.  There are so many people in my situation – and worse.  Unfortunately stalkers do not have labels, or two heads, they begin as normal people.  This could happen to anyone – this is happening to anyone. Men and women.  As been all to evident in the last past year, STALKING CAN LEAD TO MURDER.  I don’t want to hear about any more Clare’s or Rana’s who were let down and died as a result of a technicality, the rights of perpetrators or because reports of breaching orders were not followed up.

 

A crucial thing for victims in this situation is to be taken seriously. employers, colleagues, friends and relatives must not dismiss people like me as paranoid, emotional and the victim of a minor crime. When you are trying to retain your sanity, stay alive because you really don’t know what will happen next; to be believed is crucial.  If you know someone is being stalked and think ‘oh it’s only a few calls, a few presents, a bloke who won’t take no for an answer – please think of me and take it seriously, however bizarre the story sounds and please think of where those bandages SHOULD be – the psychological damage that’s going on, please don’t add to it. 

 

I set up a charity in order to provide the specialist support and understanding that people need, but it has now moved away from directly supporting victims.  For a number of reasons, I am no longer associated with it and it is why I’ve set up this site; Victims need support and understanding from people who know what it’s like.

 

From contact with thousands of victims around the world, it seems the message is consistent.  Stalking is still so misunderstood and needs to be taken seriously.  

 

STALKING CAN LEAD TO MURDER.  We need to start looking at it from this angle in this country so we can prevent some of these tragedies.  It’s about murder prevention and damage limitation, it is not a minor crime which is just a nuisance. 

 

I speak out, not to whinge on about my case, not to ‘get back’ at people, but to tell it how it is – the viewpoint of the victim.  I am NOT the only one, there are far too many others.

 

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8 Responses to “Tracey’s Stalking Experience”

  1. Madeline Says:

    I skimmed through your account: lousy legal system, letting you down. I took a class last semester on sex crimes. Read the book One Night: Realities of Rape by Cathy Winkler. With DNA evidence the case was almost dismissed because of internal political maneuvering by the prosecutor. That is rape with evidence. With stalking, where “evidence” is much more slippery, same story. With domestic violence where there is evidence, often the batterer walks out of court with a big smile and the abused victim is left shocked. I read about this again and again and again. The victims are often left in isolation as society turns their collective backs on them, and the abuser often seems to get a stronger support system.

    I am currently a “victim” of stalking. I am disabled and have been denied the health care I need to heal (I am American). My stalker is a multimillionaire (and undoubtedly a psychopath) who has a huge support system for what he is doing to me, hires people to stalk me for him, and the police have been brutally verbally abusive towards me, denying me any kind of assistance whatsoever.

    It’s not the stalkers: it’s the legal system and the people around us who allow this to happen. Until that changes, we’re going to hear the dismal shocked cries of women who realize they are not granted the rights of human beings that are expressed so eloquently in the U.S. Constitution or the Magna Carta or whatever document is used to express the rights of Men and Mankind the world over.

  2. Madeline Says:

    One more thought: San Diego is a very wealthy area of California. That city actually has a stalking task-force, I looked into that when I was trying in vain to find some legal help. San Diego also has resources for cyberstalking and hacking, but mostly because it’s in Silicon Valley and there are so many high profile high-tech firms there whose assets hackers would just love to obtain. So, there’s a lot of money there. Otherwise, in places like Miami, I was hung up on three times by the Miami Beach police when I was reporting stalking. If you want a restraining order in that county (Dade County) you must have two documented accounts of violence, as if one was not enough.

    If only I were living in San Diego. But my stalker hires a gang to stalk me by proxy for him, so it would take some kind of team to be able to track them back to him. I am truly unfortunate in that respect.

  3. rosemary Says:

    my stalker started 2000, a man in lincoln approached me looking for gardening work.claimed to be a single parent unable to work. later ,found out his son was twenty six.he would not leave me alone.he stalks me most nights throws stones on to my bungalow roof .on advice from a police officer i sold my previous property he found me four nights later.last date he was at my home july24.my next door neighbour has reported him. the police need a body before they will believe me . i am very dispirited due to lack of help.

  4. Ria Jai Says:

    OMG! My heart goes out to you, I’ve been a victim of stalking and domestic violence by a monster of a man, like you the justice system failed me time and time again, and after his release from prison probabtion rehoused him close to where I’d been moved to in the supposed witness protection lol! I dont want to hide indoors or be scared anymore, as before all this I was a confident, independant woman, but I am still locking myself away. I would love to get involved in any campayne you have going to stop this, and make life better for victims and eventually myself, the price of my peace of mind is more than a non-molestation order which he’ll happily ignore. Your bravery gives other women like me hope xxx

  5. Catherine Says:

    I am currently employed by Thames valley Police. I have had problems with a family member stalking me. He was served with a Harrassment Warning after sending me letters, calling my home as many as 60 times a day and sending me obscene texts. He started again four months later. This was deemed not to be a ‘course of conduct’ which was required for him to be in breach of the initial warning. So he was warned again. This was 2 years ago. Since then I have seen his vehicle near my house. I have no proof, no photographs. I have seen his vehicle when I have been walking my dog. I firmly believe it is not over as far as he is concerned.
    Prior to this behaviour, for over 15 years he had tried to persuade me to have sex with him and had been aggressive on countless occasions.
    I am well aware that nothing he is doing at the moment warrants an arrest. I am quite sure he is equally aware.

  6. audrey trow Says:

    I am a victim me stalling. I have repeated entries into my house and my car. They take items and them either return them to my house days or weeks later or to my workplace or car. I get stalked by cars on the road have been hit once after attending court as a witness against my ex partner. I have had people driving part laughing including law enforcement

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