Truro woman: 'Stranger just started stalking me'
A YOUNG woman from Truro has told of her "absolute terror" at being stalked by a stranger for more than a year.
Pippa Dowson, 20, said the "horrendous" experience with Darren Blee left her unable to leave her home.
Blee, 22, from Treyew Road, hid in bushes, jumped out in front of cars and followed Pippa closely around the streets of Truro.
In a landmark case, Blee was the first person in Cornwall to be dealt with by new laws that recognise stalking as a specific offence.
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Pippa's shocking ordeal began in January 2012 when she was 18 and living alone. She had never had any contact with Blee before he targeted her out of the blue.
She said: "I noticed he was following me everywhere I went and it got to the stage where I could not leave the house. He threw things at my window at home. It's been absolutely terrifying."
Pippa reported the matter to the police who spoke with Blee, but this did not discourage him. "From the beginning of this year it's been absolutely horrendous," said Pippa. "He was getting cockier and cockier. Twice he jumped out in front of a car I was travelling in which was terrifying. I started to think he was not going to stop."
Pippa was not able to leave her home by herself for months.
Her first efforts to report the stalking to the police were unsuccessful but new laws were introduced in November last year which recognised the crime and made it possible for a stalker to be jailed for up to five years.
Truro PC Barry Stafford took up the investigation and brought Pippa's case to Truro Magistrates' Court on August 28 where Blee pleaded guilty to stalking involving serious alarm or distress.
She said: "It changed my life. I couldn't do anything without being watched.
"If Barry Stafford had not done the work I dread to think what it might have escalated into. He's my knight in shining armour."
Pippa wanted to make sure other possible victims of stalking were aware that action could be taken.
She said: "I never thought anything like this would happen to me – I'm just a normal girl.
"I want people to know it is a serious crime. Something can be done about it, especially with these new stalking laws.
"If somebody reading this is experiencing something similar they should know they can get help and speak with people who will support them and believe them."
Blee was remanded in custody and will be sentenced later this month.