Wednesday 23 August 2017

Stalking victim rejects police apology over stabbing after making 125 reports before the attack

Devon and Cornwall say its 'investigation and victim care did not meet the high standards we expect'

Helen Pearson (34) suffered neck and face wounds when her neighbour Joseph Willis attacked her with scissors in an Exeter graveyard in 2013 Photo: screengrab/BBC
Helen Pearson (34) suffered neck and face wounds when her neighbour Joseph Willis attacked her with scissors in an Exeter graveyard in 2013 Photo: screengrab/BBC

May Bulman

A woman who was stabbed in the face and neck by a stalker, has dismissed a police apology as “meaningless” because she made 125 reports to the force before the attack.

Helen Pearson (34) was attacked with a pair of scissors by her neighbour Joseph Willis in an Exeter graveyard in 2013.

Devon and Cornwall Police said its “investigation and victim care did not meet the high standards we expect”.

It added: "The Chief Constable has previously met with the Pearson family and has offered a personal apology to them."

But Ms Pearson said the apology “didn't do anything” for her, adding that she was “still suffering every day because of what happened to me”.

She told the BBC: “All I can hope is that what happened to me means police officers get more training and deal with victims of stalking better - so that no-one else has to go through what I did,”

Exeter crown court heard Mr Willis had targeted Ms Pearson's flat and car, daubed abusive messages on walls near her home and sent her threatening letters between 18 January 2009 and 21 October 2013, when she was attacked.

No action was taken by police until after the attack, when Mr Willis was jailed for life for attempted murder.

Devon and Cornwall Police’s Professional Standards Department found cases of misconduct against three officers, one of whom had retired.

It is unclear what action was taken against the other two officers.

Two further officers did not have a case to answer, but were given “management guidance and advice”.

The force said “numerous changes” in had been made in its stalking investigations since the attack.

Officers were given “appropriate and regular training” and the force would “continue to strive to ensure that this type of incident is not repeated”, it said.

Independent News Service

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