Fruit seller jailed after sinister harassment campaign against shop worker he met on Metro

A serial pest has been put behind bars over a sinister harassment campaign against a shop worker he met on a Metro train.

Thursday, 17th October 2019, 2:59 pm
Updated Friday, 18th October 2019, 1:18 pm

Fruit seller Mark Liddle had comforted the woman, who was grieving the loss of her father, when he saw her upset during a train journey in January and a friendship developed.

But Newcastle Crown Court heard after the victim rejected the 52-year-old's romantic advances Liddle, who has 20 convictions for harassing women and breaching orders made to protect them, refused to take no for an answer.

The court heard he let himself into her home and left flowers, turned up at her work, made nuisance calls and even followed her around a supermarket when she tried to go shopping.

Mark Liddle

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Liddle even told the woman's neighbour she was trying to harm herself in a bid to get into her flat.

Prosecutor Emma Atikinson said the woman's ordeal left her feeling "ill" and uncomfortable in her own home.

Liddle, of Inverness Road, Jarrow, admitted harassment.

He also pleaded guilty to a malicious communications offence in relation to a different, married, woman who he telephoned repeatedly and made heavy breathing noises while performing a sex act on himself during the one call she answered.

At the time of the offences, Liddle was on a suspended sentence for trying to steal possessions from a rough sleeper who was later "tortured" by another man.

Miss Atkinson told the court after Liddle met the supermarket worker in January, he would help her around the house in return for home-cooked food and she had bought him jackets but told him there was "nothing more than friendship".

The court heard the victim had given Liddle, who "wanted to be more than friends" a key so he could let a workman into her home, in South Shields, while she was out.

Miss Atkinson said: "Three days later she came home from work and found a bunch of flowers in the house with a note that said 'don't be mad, I hope you like the flowers'.

"She certainly wasn't happy he had been in the property while she wasn't there.

"Later that day he just appeared in the flat. She describes it gave her a shock and she questioned why he was there. He apologised and she told him to leave and she wanted her key back . He seemed reluctant to return to key at that point and she demanded it back."

The court heard a few days later, Liddle turned up at the house and the victim told him she was unwell.

Liddle initially left and then returned later that day and started "banging" on the door but she refused to answer.

Miss Atkinson added: "He took it upon himself to contact a neighbour and said she was about to harm herself. It prompted the neighbour to be concerned.

"The neighbour put a ladder up to the window to check she was safe.

"She got a fright and was very angry the defendant had gone so far as to tell the neighbour this lie."

The court heard the victim was bombarded with calls, had a letter put through her door and Liddle turned up at the shop where she worked.

During a shopping trip to Tescos the woman had to alert security staff because Liddle followed her around the shop.

Judge Tim Gittins sentenced Liddle to a total of nine months behind bars.

The judge told him: "On virtually every occasion when you've made friendships with females, when you've become too much for them in terms of your attention,unwanted attention, you have turned to harassing them.

"You have in excess of 20 convictions for harassment, causing fear of violence and breach of restraining orders that have been imposed to prevent you from being in further contact with those women."

Judge Gittins imposed ten year restraining orders to keep Liddle away from the women who were his latest victims.

Muneeb Akram, defending, said Liddle "misconstrued" the friendship he had with the woman and has "heartfelt remorse" for his behaviour.