AN “obsessional” grandfather has been ordered by the courts to stay away from a South Tyneside woman he was secretly stalking.
Retired gas fitter John Murphy’s victim didn’t even know she was being followed and watched until three other women – who thought he was stalking them – confronted him and he admitted his target was the mother of two.
Magistrates in South Shields said she then became concerned for her safety and that of her children.
Murphy, of Wellesley Street, Jarrow, had admitted a charge of stalking at an earlier hearing and was made the subject of an indefinite restraining order – barring him from approaching the woman – and a 12-month community order.
District Judge Helen Cousins told him: “I’m sure you must now recognise the seriousness of the behaviour you exhibited.
“She must have been very distressed. This restraining order will give her some security.”
The court heard Murphy first met the woman at an Alcoholics Anonymous group meeting in 2006 and the pair had struck up a friendship. This ended after year when the woman made an allegation to police about him, which ultimately did not proceed to court.
The woman spotted him following her home in December and Murphy told her he was “looking out for her” as he was concerned she was drinking again. She told him to leave her alone.
The victim did not report the matter to police and only discovered he was stalking her in April when three women called at her home and told her Murphy had revealed to them he had been following her.
The women had believed Murphy was targeting them after seeing him at a school and confronted him. He admitted he was watching the victim.
Jeanette Smith, prosecuting, said: “The three women asked if she knew John Murphy and explained they thought he was stalking them. They said they confronted him and he said he was watching the injured party.”
In a victim statement read out in court, the woman said: “I am greatly concerned for the safety of my myself and my two children. I am single and live alone with them and do not have the security of another adult living with me.
“I feel all churned up that he has come back to haunt me. I tried to put him to the back of my mind but feel scared and frightened that he knows where I live and that he has been watching me. I am very unsettled and on my guard to the extent that I don’t even want to put my rubbish out in the dark.”
When Murphy was arrested, he admitting stalking the woman.
The offences took place between December last year and April and involved watching her at her home, the school of her children and following her.
Laura Croft, defending, said Murphy was a grandfather who had served 10 years in the Territorial Army.
Miss Croft said: “There are no threats made or any attempts of violence against the complainant. The motivations for his behaviour was concern for the woman and her children. They met many years ago at an AA group. He was concerned she was under the influence of alcohol.
“He accepts what he did was somewhat obsessional behaviour, though out of sight the majority of the time.
“He didn’t report his concerns because of the previous history in their relationship. He feared the police would think it was a malicious complaint.
“He fully accepts the seriousness of this offence and he is extremely remorseful.”
Miss Croft said Murphy had no objection to a restraining order being placed upon him.
Murphy was also ordered to pay court costs of £85 and a £60 victim surcharge.