School friend turned stalker in 12-year campaign of harassment

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A MAN who launched a 12-year stalking campaign on an ex-school friend has been spared jail.

Gary McVeigh was not a close friend of his victim when they were classmates almost 20 years ago.

But Newcastle Crown Court heard that for more than a decade the 33-year-old repeatedly harassed her and persistently breached a restraining order made to keep him away.

The woman told police in a recent statement she fears her torment will never come to an end.

Prosecutor Kevin Wardlaw told the court: “The complainant has known him since school.

“After leaving school they kept in touch for a short period but she does not describe him as a close friend and she had not been in a relationship with him.

“Over the last 12 years he has contacted her on numerous occasions, unwanted contact which has led to a number of convictions and a restraining order being put in place prohibiting him from having contact with her.

“He has 11 convictions for 17 offences between 1997 and 2011 and the majority of those are for offences of harassment either against this complainant or another lady he went to school with and breach of various orders.

“In addition there is drink-driving and possession of drugs.”

In her victim statement, the woman told police: “I’m totally fed up of receiving unwanted letters and other items over the years.

“I can’t see it ending.”

McVeigh was in court after he admitted breaching the restraining order by posting a letter to his victim in August.

The note, which was written on plain white paper, said “Nine months max! I promise” and was followed by a drawing of either a wedding or engagement ring.

Mr Wardlaw added: “It seems his belief was they are to be married at some point.”

Nigel Barnes, defending, said that McVeigh suffers from a mental health disorder which leads to him having delusions but it can be treated properly in the community.

Mr Barnes said McVeigh has moved in with his parents, who are “keeping a very close eye” on everything he does.

Judge Esmond Faulks agreed to give McVeigh, of Avenue Vivian, Fence Houses, a last chance to keep up with his medication and work with professionals trying to help him.

The judge sentenced him to a community order for two years with mental health treatment and supervision requirements.

But the judge warned: “If you start sending more letters to people then all bets are off and you will have to be locked up.”

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