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Friday, 29 August 2014

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Mum tells of stalker car chase terror through Carlisle - court

A terrified young mum drove through Carlisle in the dead of night being chased by the man who had been stalking her for years, the city’s Crown Court heard.

Danielle Heggie, 30, had been pestered by 40-year-old Stephen James Owen after he was introduced to her by a friend eight years ago.

Things came to a head when he inexplicably turned up outside the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle on the night she had to take her boyfriend for treatment there.

Owen, whose father is a retired senior policeman, claimed it was just by chance that he was parked in the road outside the hospital when she left the hospital at 1.30am on the night of June 10.

Judge Peter Hughes QC said: “I find this case very very troubling. The only conclusion I can come to is that he has an unhealthy obsession with this lady.”

The court heard that Owen, of Main Street, Shap, became obsessed with Ms Heggie, who lives in Penrith, after he was introduced to her by a friend.

Even though he never had any sort of relationship with her, and she “gave him no encouragement”, he started pestering her in 2004, when he was first in court for harassing her.

Since then he had been in court several times both for harassing Ms Heggie and for ignoring court orders to keep away from her, prosecutor Dick Binstead said.

He had also been sent to prison, put under curfews and given restraining orders – all intended to prevent him contacting her.

For six years Ms Heggie heard nothing from him until February this year when he unexpectedly made contact with her again, through the Facebook social networking website.

In April he followed her in his car after she found him “lurking” in his car as she, her partner and young son left a party at her mother’s house.

A week later Ms Heggie’s mother saw him driving past her house “glaring” at her, and on the same day he turned up outside an Indian takeaway, parking close in front of Ms Heggie’s car and shouted threats, following as she drove away.

Mr Binstead told the court the “most sinister incident” came on June 10 when Ms Heggie had to take her partner to hospital in Carlisle.

As she left the hospital alone in the small hours she became aware of Owen following. She took “a convoluted route” to shake him off, but failed. Ms Heggie was so frightened she phoned the police as she was driving and was given directions to the police station at Durranhill.

Ms Heggie stopped and ran for help when she saw a police car. Owen was arrested soon afterwards.

He pleaded guilty to a further offence of harassment and, according to his barrister Keith Thomas, now appreciated that he could have no contact with Ms Heggie.

Owen was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

He was also banned for life from having any sort of contact with Ms Heggie, her mother or her partner.

He was ordered to live only at addresses approved by the court, initially at his parents’ home in Kendal and put under a night-time curfew.

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