UK

Stalking: My ex-partner sent me 4,000 emails

Woman holding a phone Image copyright Getty Images

"I asked to be left alone, I asked him to get on with his life and let me live mine. I told him I was scared, my children were scared, but nothing helped."

For nearly 12 months, Michael Cook, 31, stalked his ex-partner after she ended their relationship.

Every day he would contact her - threatening to kill himself or asking for forgiveness - despite him being asked to leave her alone.

"In total I received over 4,000 emails, over 300 phone calls and hundreds of messages.

"Just because the messages were not direct threats or harmful, doesn't mean it cannot have the same emotional impact.

"I have had to change my whole life to ensure that my children and I were kept safe throughout this. I still have to maintain this, and my life will never be the same again."

On Monday, Cook, from Litherland in Liverpool, was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail suspended for a year after pleading guilty to stalking at Liverpool Crown Court.

He was also handed a five-year restraining order stopping him from contacting his ex-partner.

'Constant suicide threats'

His victim has released a statement through the police describing the ordeal he put her through.

"I had constant threats of suicide, allegations made against me of a serious nature, I was hounded and persecuted at every point, on a daily basis, many times a day.

"Whether this be via social media, telephone, email, or any platform where I was reachable - including PayPal.

"This didn't stop there, this also included my family members, my children, their partners and my friends and work colleagues."

Feeling scared and vulnerable, the victim contacted Merseyside Police who launched an investigation. Despite their involvement, Cook continued to stalk her.

"His behaviours were always seen as acceptable to him as 'he loved me' seemingly excusing his behaviours and rationalising why he was constantly contacting me.

"This behaviour is not appropriate and love does not cause you so much emotional harm and distress that your mental health is affected."

The victim says she now knows her ex-partner had shown similar behaviours before and wants to encourage women to obtain Clare's Law disclosure on their partner.

This scheme - named after Clare Wood who was murdered in 2009 - allows people to apply to the police to find out if their partner has a history of domestic violence behaviour.

Image copyright Manchester Police handouts
Image caption Clare Wood was killed by George Appleton, who had a history of violence against women

"I am only making this statement in the hope that any woman or man who has had or is currently experiencing similar behaviours from an ex-partner, recognises that this is wrong.

"As a victim I know how easy it is to blame yourself, but please don't, reach out and get support. Don't put up with it."

Stalking charity Protection Against Stalking says cases like these are not unusual.

It says it has also seen the number of cases it deals with double since the coronavirus lockdown came into force.

"Lockdown does not mean lockdown to a stalker who is obsessed," says strategic advisor Jan Berry.

"In the last couple of weeks we have successfully supported clients to obtain 11 protective orders through the court.

"It is important that people recognise stalking behaviours and seek advice and support to stay safe."

Detective Chief Insp Siobhan Gainer, from Merseyside Police, said the case against Cook clearly demonstrates how stalking causes alarm and distress to victims.

"We understand that in the current lockdown victims of stalking may feel more vulnerable due to their own movements being restricted and potentially stalking behaviour continuing.

"We want to reassure them that we will continue to support them during this difficult time."

Anyone who thinks they are being stalked is urged to contact the police or call the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300.

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