A St Leonards man has been given a four-year prison sentence for stalking a woman over a ten-year period.
Sherzad Salih, a driver, 38, of St Paul’s Place, St Leonards, was sentenced when he appeared in custody at Hove Crown Court on Tuesday (October 10), having previously pleaded guilty at Hastings Magistrates’ Court. He pleaded guilty to charges of stalking a woman and causing her fear that violence would be used against her.
He was also given an indefinite Restraining Order prohibiting him from any further contact with the woman.
The woman, now in her early fifties, was first approached by Salih, a complete stranger to her, in 2007 when she was leaving an office where she worked in St Leonards.
His approaches started by leaving her flowers and chocolates and asking her out, although the contact was intermittent for several years. She reported this twice to the police, and also twice to Facebook after he contacted her when she started using it. Each time the contact stopped.
However at the beginning of this year he spotted her again, while she was walking her dog in Hastings. He then approached her again four times, in April and in July this year.
In July, Salih followed her in his car when she was driving in Hastings and pulled in front of her several times. She became very frightened and drove straight to Hastings police station to report him.
Salih was arrested and released on bail for further enquiries, but in early August she again spotted Salih, who was this time driving along her own street.
Police ANPR checks also showed Salih’s car driving near the victim on several further occasions this year, unbeknownst to her.
The woman said; “I am so happy with the result and if it encourages and gives confidence to other victims of stalking to come forward, then I feel something positive has come out of this horrendous crime.
“I am so grateful for the support from my friends, family, the investigating officer PC Jenna Boyd, the witness support service and the witness care service. I feel there is still a lot to learn regarding the new legislation on stalking that came in in 2012 by the authorities. But the prison sentence of four years and the restraining order has given me faith that justice does prevail.”
PC Jenna Boyd said; “This woman has endured a gradually escalating campaign of systematic stalking by Salih. The experience left her terrified for the safety of both herself and her family.
“Although Salih did not overtly threaten her or attempt any physical attack, his actions have had a significant emotional impact on her, and we are glad that the court has reflected this in the sentence.
“We hope that the sentence and the Restraining Order will give Salih a dose of reality, and that the victim will now be able to move on with her life without fear of his presence in it.”
Detective Chief Inspector Pierre Serra, force policy lead on stalking, said; “This is another example of the way stalking offences are taken seriously. We continue to work to raise awareness of this issue with colleagues and partners.
“A comprehensive policy for supporting victims is in place, updated recently following consultation with Veritas Justice and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, both of whom gave us invaluable feedback on our policy.
“The force has also been carrying out extra work with Paladin, a national organisation which supports high risk victims of stalking with their specialist Independent Stalking Advocacy Caseworkers (ISAC). They have trained a selected number of officers across Sussex who will have an extra level of specialism in this area of work. They are able to advise and support our other investigators whenever needed.”