'It completely broke me' - Stalking victim's harrowing story after ex jailed
PUBLISHED: 11:52 22 September 2019 | UPDATED: 12:01 22 September 2019
A woman who was stalked by her ex-partner in Colchester is speaking out about her harrowing experience in a bid to help other victims.
Adrian Matthews was jailed for more than two years at Ipswich Crown Court this week after subjecting his former girlfriend to an ordeal which lasted several months.
The pair had met through a dating app and were together for around 10 months until she ended the relationship in March this year.
For the next three months 43-year-old Matthews, of De Grey Road, Colchester, stalked and harassed her - failing to accept that their relationship was over.
He followed her to the supermarket and, on one occasion, got into her car preventing her from driving off, before following her home and trying to get into her address.
On another occasion he turned up at her home, told her he had fixed her broken gate, and watched her through her windows before leaving and then just days later confronted her while she was at a local shop.
Even when she tried changing her usual route to work, she saw Matthews near her home address.
During this period she obtained a non-molestation order which banned Matthews from doing things like harassing her, attending her address or going within 100 metres of it, or contacting her by phone, text or email.
Then on June 11 of this year, Matthews followed her into the ASDA store in Turner Road - and she alerted a security guard before calling the police who arrested him on suspicion of stalking.
CCTV was obtained from the supermarket which showed Matthews there and his intent to follow the victim into the store.
He initially denied two offences of stalking, two of breaching a non-molestation order and another of assault by beating, but pleaded guilty before his trial.
Matthews was sentenced to 25 months in prison at Ipswich Crown Court this week, and received a restraining order lasting seven years.
'I was part of his game'
His victim, who does not wish to be identified, said: "This period of my life completely broke me, I had gone from going out and being a pretty relaxed person to staying in my house and being constantly worried and anxious.
"I didn't feel in control of my life and I felt completely isolated. I didn't want to go to friends' houses or see other people because I felt I didn't want to put this on them.
"It's all about control. Once I had ended the relationship and he had lost control of me, he was doing anything he could get that back.
"It actually felt like it was a game for him, and I was part of his game, and that he had to win at any cost regardless of how that made me feel.
She added: "I was going four or five days without going out because I was in fear of him being there.
"When I absolutely had to go out to go shopping, it was a nightmare because I didn't know if he was there."
'There were red flags'
There had been warning signs during their relationship, she said, but she was unaware of Clare's Law which allows people who think they have a violent partner or former partner to request information about them.
"There were definitely red flags during the relationship that I brushed aside," she added.
"Near the end of the relationship I did do an internet search for his name but nothing came up.
"When I broached my concerns with him, I had the overwhelming feeling that he was being dishonest and he pushed it back on me, making me feel like all the problems in the relationship were my fault.
"If I had known about Clare's Law at the time I would definitely have used it and may not have ended up in the situation I did.
"If you're with someone who lied and manipulated you then something like Clare's Law could be a massive lifeline."
- To report being stalked, or any other crime, call 101 or 999 in an emergency.