The stalker next door: Truro man free to live next door to victim
A STALKER who terrified a young woman has walked free from court – to live next door to her.
Darren Blee, 22, pictured, told police he "could not stop himself" from following Pippa Dowson day and night, hiding in bushes and jumping out in front of cars she was travelling in.
Blee was given a suspended sentence and a community order at Truro Crown Court after admitting his "unhealthy fixation" with his next-door neighbour. He had pleaded guilty to stalking involving serious alarm or distress.
Following the hearing, 20-year-old Pippa said: "My life has been ruined for nearly two years and he got a slap on the wrist. My safety is compromised. His feelings were taken into consideration over mine.
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"It's disgusting. I think it's horrendous that they have just let him go home right next door to me."
Blee was living with his parents on Treyew Road, Truro, when he became obsessed with Pippa, then just 18 and living alone.
Garth Richardson, for the prosecution, told the court on Friday that Blee had been given a police information notice in July 2012 and a caution in November of the same year, warning him to stop the harassment. After the caution, Blee behaved himself for three months, but in February he started harassing and stalking her again.
Mr Richardson listed a catalogue of incidents, including Pippa returning home on August 18 to find Blee screaming and making animal noises at her.
Blee admitted to police he had been following her and when asked why, he said: "I don't know why, there is something wrong with me but I don't know what. I can't stop myself."
Dieter Kehler, for the defence, said Blee found it hard to make friends and interact with others.
Judge John Neligan described Blee as a lonely and isolated young man who had suffered a great deal of bullying in his teenage years.
New laws were introduced in November last year which recognised stalking as a crime with a potential sentence of up to five years.
Blee was given a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months and ordered to carry out 100 hours' unpaid work.
He was placed on a restraining order not to contact his victim directly or indirectly and not to go to her work or to follow her for a period of five years.
After the hearing, Pippa said she was trying to continue with her life as normally as possible.
She said: "The effect it had on me was life-changing. But if I'm not strong now, it's going to go back to me being a complete mess again.
"Hopefully, now other people are aware of what this man is capable of."