Exeter stabbing victim Helen Pearson: 'Terribly failed' by police

Helen Pearson after the attack
Image caption Helen Pearson was stabbed in the neck with a pair of scissors near a cemetery in Exeter

A stabbing victim has lodged a complaint about the police handling of stalking she suffered before she was attacked.

Helen Pearson, 34, was attacked by neighbour Joe Willis in Exeter last October.

She told the BBC she believed Devon and Cornwall Police "missed dozens of opportunities to prevent the stabbing".

Police said they would "cooperate fully" with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Willis, 49, was found guilty of attempted murder in April at Exeter Crown Court, after repeatedly stabbing Ms Pearson with a pair of scissors near the city's St Bartholomew's Cemetery.

Image copyright Courtesy of Exeter Express and Echo
Image caption Joseph Willis was found guilty of attempted murder

The court heard Ms Pearson's flat and car were targeted, abusive messages were daubed on the streets around her house, threatening letters were sent to her and a dead cat was left on her doorstep.

About 125 reports of stalking were logged by Devon and Cornwall Police over the course of five years before the attempted murder.

The IPCC complaint, which details all the reports over 48 pages, was submitted to the commission by Ms Pearson and her parents, who were also targeted.

Ms Pearson said: "I was terribly failed. The attacks were getting worse and worse and the police failed to realise that and act."

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said: "We are aware of the complaint and will cooperate fully with the IPCC.

"Because of the investigation, we cannot say anything else."

The force's Professional Standards Department was carrying out its own review of the case, the spokesman added.

Willis, from Exeter, had admitted causing grievous bodily harm to Ms Pearson, but had denied attempted murder.

He is due to be sentenced on 30 May.

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