Fylde coast driving instructor Bob Coughtrey tells of terrifying experience of being victim of female stalker

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A driving instructor was left in fear of his life after attracting the attention of a female stalker who said she wanted to stab him to death.

Bob Coughtrey, 59, was bombarded with text messages and phone calls by the younger woman, who he first met when she was one of his driving students.

He was particularly worried because she’d already told him how she tried to stab someone else.

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But the stalking progressed and eventually she found out where he lived and turned up at his door, threatening to kill herself unless he opened the door.

When police were called they found a knife in her car.

However, things became even more alarming when the woman later told a mental health worker that the person she most wanted to kill was Bob.

Despite a court prosecution and an indefinite restraining order, Bob says he has had to learn to deal with his fears when he is a crowded area or a coinfined public spoace.

The ex-Army man, who has a grown-up son, said: “I still don think cases of men being stalked by women are taken seriously enough by the police or the public.

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“A police friend of mine from London admitted that they would intervene much more quickly if the victim was a woman.

"On one occasion, someone even asked me if my stalker was “fit” and suggested I should feel flattered!

"I supposed it’s hard for people to realise how frightening it is.

“As someone who was in the Army I have seen some sights, but nothing has been anywhere near as bad as this.

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"All it takes is one moment with a knife and it’s too late for anyone to help you.

"I couldn’t relax and was always looking over my shoulder. I’m still not really over it, to be honest, but you to just get on with things.”

How it began

It was back in 2017 that Bob first met the woman, who was in her late twenties.

Bob, who lived in Thornton before moving to another part of the Fylde coast with his partner, said: “She was quite unusual – I try and put people at their ease bcause learning to drive can be quite stressful – I make an effort to make them feel more relaxed.

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"I did notice that there was no feedback from her – it was all short replies, even one-word answers, yes or no, mostly.

"Then, on the day of the driving test she suddenly started opening up with some very random and disturbing things – she told me she had tried to stab someone and didn’t manage it only because her family restrained her.

"I was hoping and praying she would pass the test so I wouldn’t have to see her any more, it made me really uncomfortable.

"So when she did pass it was odd– I was over the moon but she showed no emotion at all. Usually it’s a bit more the other way around.

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"That night the texts started. She thanked me for helping her pass and I replied ‘your welcome’ – but then said texted back and said was sad she’d passed because it meant she couldn't spend any more time with me.

"It was then that alarm bells really started ringing. I hoped if I didn’t text back, that would be the end of it. But unfortunately it wasn’t.”

From then on, the texts became frequent and obsessive, telling him she had to see him.

Eventually, Bob felt he had no choice but to phone the police.

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But he was told that the best way to stop it was to simply block the calls.

For two months he blocked in-coming messages, sometimes bombarded with dozens of texts a day, then a week of silence, then more texts and calls.

"She change the numbers so as soon as was number was blocked, she’d be back with a new one – lots of new ones. Blocking it just didn’t work.”

She’s at the door

Bob was in for even more worried when the woman found out where he lived.

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He said: “I don’t know how she got it but she texted to say she was outside and she turned up twice, ringing the bell.

"Police told me they’d only come if there was direct contact. How direct did it have to be – she was at the door!”

On the third occasion, things got even worse.

"She said if I didn’t come out, she’d kill herself outside my front door.”

Bob dialled 999 and police turned up in eight minutes and found a knife, a bottle of pills and several suicide letters in the car – all addressed to Bob.

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Eventually the case went to court and Bob’s stalker was given a suspended prison sentence for 18 months and an indefinite restraining order

Almost exactly a year later, Bob thought the problems were over – he’d moved address and hoped it was all behind him.

But police called him to say the woman had been arrested.

I said: “Who’s the unlucky person this time?

"They said ‘unfortunately, it’s you sir’”.

Apparently, she told her psychiatrist that if she had the chance, she’d like to torture me slowly and stab me to death! She blamed me for everything!

"My hands started shaking, I was horrified.”

Bob’s stalker was eventually remanded in custody and later appeared in court by video link on charges relating to a making a threat to kill.

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She was given another suspended sentence, in addition to a special order involving compulsory psychiatric monitoring.

Bob, who recently appeared on This Morning television show to talk about his experience, says: “It’s been a while now but still don’t feel property safe.

"I know it is a shame that someone like this woman is not well, but to be the object of such obsession and hate is terrifying.

"I would like to see this kind of stalking taken more seriously because at the time I felt it really wasn’t.

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"Of course when a woman are stalked by a man it is really serious and should always be taken seriously.

"But people think that a woman stalking a man isn’t really that much of a deal – but I would say different!”