A woman who was subjected to a terrifying campaign of stalking which saw her obsessive ex live in her garden shed for five days without her knowing has spoken of her horrendous ordeal.
Laura Vance, 37, from Darlington, County Durham, moved house in a desperate bid to escape Richard Bradford, who had already been convicted of harassing her, but the 42-year-old quickly tracked her down.
Just a couple of days after moving Ms Vance came downstairs during the night and looked out of the window to see the blood curdling sight of a hooded Mr Bradford standing outside.
Laura Vance, 37, from Darlington, was subjected to a terrifying campaign of stalking which saw her obsessive ex Richard Bradford, 42, live in her garden shed (pictured together)
Social workers discovered ripped up pictures of her and an ex and a cider bottle in the garden shed
The next day she was further horrified to find a metal rose and teddy bear had been left on the front lawn of her home.
Frantic Ms Vance contacted social workers, and when they visited her a week later they discovered ripped up pictures of her and an ex and a cider bottle in the garden shed.
Mr Bradford, of no fixed address, was subsequently arrested and later admitted he’d been living in the shed for five days
Mr Bradford, of no fixed address, was subsequently arrested and later admitted he’d been living in the shed for five days, without Ms Vance having a clue.
Ms Vance has chosen to speak out now to mark National Stalking Awareness Week 2020.
She said: ‘I just couldn’t believe he’d gone to such lengths to spy on me.
‘When I realised he’d been living in my shed, I felt sick. To think he’d been lurking so close by was just awful.
‘Looking back, I had thought I had heard the shed door open a few times, but hadn’t really dwelt on it.
‘Richard has terrorised me and made my life hell, it was like I was living in a film.
‘I don’t understand why he has done this. He will not leave me alone, he will not stop.
‘I would go to make food and see his face at the window. He would stand outside my house.
‘It was no life to live and women need to speak out. Don’t feel ashamed and be persistent, somebody will believe you.’
Ms Vance met Mr Bradford in early 2017, but the pair split up just months later in October of that year due to his controlling and aggressive behaviour.
In November 2017 Bradford was given a community order and a two year restraining order for harassment and battery.
Ms Vance met Mr Bradford in early 2017, but the pair split up just months later in October of that year due to his controlling and aggressive behaviour
In May 2018 he was jailed for 18 weeks for breaching the restraining order and in November 2018 he was given a conditional discharge for harassment.
Despite the court cases he continued to pester Ms Vance, moving into her shed during this time, and in February 2019 he was given an indefinite restraining order.
But even that didn’t stop him contacting Ms Vance and in March, last year, he was jailed for 16 months after being convicted of stalking and three breaches of the restraining order.
Mr Bradford (pictured left and right) had turned up at Ms Vance’s new home (left) just days after she moved to escape him
Ms Vance says he continued to write to her from prison and once he was released on December 3 he carried on with his campaign of harassment, phoning her more than 100 times.
This February, at Newcastle Crown Court, Mr Bradford pleaded guilty to two counts of breaching a restraining order and was jailed again, this time for 26 months.
Ms Vance added: ‘I was made to feel like I was crazy and I was making it up.
Ms Vance says he continued to write to her from prison and once he was released on December 3 he carried on with his campaign of harassment, phoning her more than 100 times
‘It took years to get believed and for Richard to get a proper sentence.
‘He sent me letters even from prison.
‘I had to blockade myself in my house. I was too scared to leave. But now I feel like a huge weight has been lifted, I want anyone going through the same thing to know it will get better, you can get out.’