Wednesday 24 May 2017

Ferdinand tells of his anger at woman stalker convicted of harassing him

Rachael Sabrille in London

A WOMAN who stalked Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand has been convicted of harassment.

Susanne Ibru (38) twice disturbed the player and his wife while they were asleep, insisting that she needed to speak to him.

She was convicted at Macclesfield Magistrates' Court in Chesire in her absence yesterday.

Ibru, who conducted her own defence, left court after being told Ferdinand's wife Rebecca (30) was excused from giving evidence after giving birth to their third child, a girl, at the weekend.

Earlier, Ibru had questioned the 32-year-old England star in the witness box, telling him as he left the court: "I'll see you soon, bye.''

A warrant was later issued for Ibru by District Judge Nicholas Sanders, who asked for her to be brought back before him for sentencing.

He said it was "quite clear"that the prosecution case was proved.

He said: "Mr Ferdinand is a high-profile footballer and whilst there will always be occasions where he is exposed to public and press scrutiny, the fact is that when he is in the privacy of his own home with his family he has a right to expect to be left alone."

Ibru, who was living in Peckham, south London, made the 400-mile round trip to Ferdinand's home in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, on February 21 last year, then again on June 16 and 18.

He told the court he was upset by the visits from the woman, whom he had never met.

"At first I was angry and upset but then disturbed, really, because I have got a young family and this was not the time or the place to be coming to speak to me," the player said.

On the first occasion, Ibru disturbed the couple by pressing the intercom buzzer at the driveway gates in the early hours of the morning. Ferdinand called his club's security who alerted police and Ibru left after being warned against harassment.

The second time, he was returning home at around 8pm when he saw her standing on the road opposite his house. Police again warned her that she would face prosecution, but she turned up two days later in the early hours of June 18.

Ibru again woke the couple using the buzzer and she was arrested.

"The safety of my family is as huge to me as it is to anyone," the footballer said.

During her cross-examination of Ferdinand, she claimed they had first met at the home of one of his relatives in 1998 -- an occasion he said he did not recall. The defendant, wearing a short black dress, replied: "I remember that very well.''

Ferdinand's mother Janice was briefly introduced to Ibru after a church function in 2003, the court heard.

Ibru managed to obtain her phone number and would phone her under some pretext, eventually asking after her son.

Mrs Ferdinand soon changed her number, the court was told.

Safety

Rebecca Ferdinand was also disturbed, telling police she was concerned for the safety of herself and her family as it "was not the behaviour of a normal fan".

Ibru told the judge she wanted to question Mrs Ferdinand and, when she was told she could not, she walked out of court and failed to return.

She never denied visiting the Ferdinand home but argued her actions did not amount to harassment.

But the judge said: "It is without question that it did amount to harassment of Mr and Mrs Ferdinand."

Irish Independent

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