A Fylde mum says she is living in fear as she waits for her alleged stalker’s case to come to court.
Sophie Wong is calling for more urgency to stalking cases after a hearing over a breach of a restraining order was twice postponed at short notice.
The restraining order was imposed after Sophie was subjected to a barrage of calls and messages over a period of months. But when it was allegedly broken and the man responsible pleased not guilty, it meant magistrates had to direct the resulting hearing to Crown Court.
A date was set for the case to be heard at Preston in March, but Sophie says it was called off at less than a day’s notice because the court calendar was too busy to accommodate it.It was rearranged for earlier this month only for the very same scenario to happen again - and now the 23-year-old mum of one from Wesham has contacted her MP Mark Menzies in the hope of getting the courts to treat such cases more urgently.
“I can’t believe the hearing has been put back twice - and all the time I am living in fear of what the man responsible might do next,” said Sophie.
“The restraining order actually ran out in May but the police tell me while the case is pending it still applies. But I have been living a nightmare for two years now and I really need closure.
“I realise the courts only have so much time and they have to prioritise cases such as murder but who is to say a case like mine won’t end in murder? It has happened before and it really is a frightening situation which is affecting my entire life, as I have had to change jobs and I’m scared to go out. “
Sophie’s ordeal began around two years ago soon after she had broken up with her daughter’s dad. Friends thought she would benefit from a night out and they arranged for her to meet the man who no one ever imagined at the time would have such an impact on her life.
“We met at a pub and had a pleasant enough time chatting but when he asked about meeting again I said I was not ready for a relationship - that it was too soon after the last one and that I needed to be on my own with my daughter for a while,” said Sophie.
“But he didn’t take that well and began calling me urging me to change my mind. It really escalated after a I got a new boyfriend. The man found out where I worked and came to see me.
“He just wouldn’t take no for an answer and it became very stressful. In the end I had to give up my job and find something else. He bombarded me with calls and social media messages and even came to my place of work and just stood outside watching it.
“One Boxing Day, he sent me at least 50 texts.The fact he used pay as you go phones and left messages on Snapchat made it very difficult for me to block him or the police to obtain evidence.
He also knew just how far away from my place of work to stand so he was on a public street and actually not doing anything wrong. It’s so frightening - I am scared to go out, even in the daytime with my daughter, and something really needs to be done to help provide closure more urgently in such cases.
“Victims of stalking aren’t receiving the protection and support they should be and the system isn’t dealing with it as it should be.”
Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: “I am very concerned to hear of the delays, especially given the nature of the alleged crime. I am working with my constituent and speaking to the Crown Prosecution Service and courts to see what action can be taken to resolve it as soon as possible.”
A HM Courts and Tribunals spokesman said: “We do everything we can to ensure cases are dealt with as quickly as possible but some delays are unavoidable, for example if another trial overruns.”