Friday, November 04, 2011

'I don't trust anyone any more': Victim of 'sexually obsessed' British cop was so terrified her hair fell out

The victim of a 'sexually obsessed' policeman stalker, who targeted scores of vulnerable women, has told of the stress and 'drip, drip torture' it caused her, which led to her losing her hair.

Dunstable-based Maria Snow, a 48-year-old mother, waived her anonymity to speak of the six-months of torment she suffered from her unknown admirer, Mark Wilkie.

She was bombarded with explicit texts and phone calls where the man on the other end - the former Bedfordshire Police PC - would breathe heavily and tell her how attractive she was to him.

The 51-year-old Wilkie, an award-winning policeman commended for bravery, was jailed for three years and four months last month at Cambridge Crown Court after admitting to 12 counts of misconduct in public office over a period of two years.

Between 2008 and 2010 he would target women who he had met while investigating crimes, and would search out their numbers and details using the police's database. Wilkie would then pester them using a stolen pay-as-you-go mobile phone - and detectives said there may have been as many as 50 targets. The people he stalked included victims of domestic abuse and missing teenagers.

Mrs Snow, who used to be confident and outgoing, said that the harassment caused her to become 'a nervous wreck'.

She originally met Wilkie in February 2010 when the ex-policeman attended an emergency at her home, and she said: 'I received a text message saying: "You're totally gorgeous and sexy."

'I texted back saying they had the wrong number, and got a reply saying: "No I haven't Maria." 'It turned in to six months of texts and phone calls, every night and day. It was mental cruelty.' Mrs Snow's suspicion fell on every man she knew, she said, from 'friends' husbands, to someone at the gym, to people I worked with'.

And the stress and anxiety even caused her hair to break off and fall out.

She continued: 'I didn't want to change my phone number because I had had it for 20 years and used it for my work, and my phone wouldn't let me block the calls.

'He started with one call a day and within a month it had gone up to once an hour. It was like a drip, drip torture. 'Two months in I texted back and said, 'I'm in the middle of a horrible divorce, could you please stalk me in six months' time?" 'My friends would phone him and threaten him, but it didn't make any difference.

'There was one time that I answered the phone as I was worried it might have been one of the children trying to contact me, and it was him. 'He said, "Hi, it's me," and I almost threw up on the spot.

'You just go into a whole world of doubt and suspicion, and it makes you realise how vulnerable you are.'

The contact stopped abruptly at the beginning of August last year, and at the end of December she had a phone call from the police.

She added: 'They said they'd arrested Mark Wilkie. They'd been into his locker at work and found a phone with all the numbers.'

Wilkie, of Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, served as a police officer for nearly 30 years and received several commendations for bravery and exceptional service.

In mitigation, defence counsel Hector Maclean-Watt told the court his client's long-term relationship had broken down shortly before the offences started and his marriage had ended four years earlier.

The judge described him as 'sexually obsessed'. He said the offences were 'an appalling breach of trust' which undermined public confidence in the police. Judge Gareth Hawkesworth told Wilkie: 'You abused the very people you were there to protect. This was effectively terrorising vulnerable people in breach of trust.'

Bedfordshire Police added: 'Wilkie's behaviour is absolutely abhorrent.'

The jailing of her tormentor, who she describes as 'a pervert', has brought little relief or joy for Mrs Snow. 'I can't be pleased at the sentence. I just feel numb and I wish I didn't have to be involved,' she said. 'I actually don't believe I trust anyone any more.

'But I hope this will make the police take this kind of situation seriously, and I hope it stands as a lesson to other people out there.'

Original report here

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