Emily Matlis, the Newsnight presenter, recently spoke of her stalker ordeal after twenty years of harassment. She said it was like a chronic illness. The well-known pop musician, Lily Allen, was stalked for seven years culminating in the stalker breaking into her home. He was subsequently charged for burglary and harassment. These well-known people make the headlines but, unfortunately, stalking is not just reserved for famous people. Recently the BBC reported on a Co Down school principal who was harassed for over a year by a parent of two pupils. She described her ordeal and said that she was very intimidated and scared. Her stalker was sentenced to four months in jail, but the prison term was suspended for three years.
Stalking is illegal. Stalking includes being followed or constantly harassed by another person, for example being sent unwanted emails, text messages, graffiti, leaving messages on social media sites and also the physical act of following someone. The stalking causes the victim alarm or distress.
There is protection available under the Protection from Harassment Order (NI) 1997 – a person shall not pursue a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another in which the perpetrator knows or ought to know will cause the victim harassment (which includes alarming the person or causing them distress).
There is a national stalking helpline, 0808 802 0300. Should you wish to know more about your rights in relation to this please do not hesitate to contact Enda Lavery at MTB Solicitors.