A victim has shared her experience of being stalked and blackmailed by a man she considered a friend, after he was jailed for two and a half years.
Anwar Hussain, 27, from London pleaded guilty to stalking the woman for a period of six months, during which he threatened to release a compromising video of her if she didn’t pay him money. The video, in fact, never existed.
Hussain met the woman through an online dating app in September 2019 and they met a couple of times. The harassment started in January 2020, and the victim began to receive threatening messages on her phone.
During the campaign of harassment that followed, she was bombarded by threats through the post, by email and phone.
In addition to targeting the victim directly, Hussain also created a number of fake social media profiles using her photos and phone number, and used those profiles to invite strangers to the victim’s home.
He also sent unwanted food deliveries, sometimes up to ten times a day, either very late at night or early in the morning.
Throughout that time, he maintained a façade of a caring friend, when in fact he was using his knowledge to facilitate his obsessive and unwanted behaviour. He even offered emotional support to the victim knowing she was experiencing the anguish he was responsible for.
At Luton Crown Court, Hussain was sentenced for 30 months for blackmail, and 30 months for stalking, to run concurrently. He was also issued with a restraining order for an indefinite period.
The victim said:
“The impact this ordeal had on me is indescribable. Who knew that someone I was getting to know, and was treating me in the nicest possible way, was secretly putting me through hell. There is no reason to ever excuse this behaviour.
“Over the last few months, I’ve never felt more scared. I am feeling on edge and powerless. Every time my phone buzzed or the doorbell rang, my heart would be beating rapidly out of control.
“I didn’t feel safe anywhere and was scared of doing anything normal. I began isolating myself and didn’t know who I could trust.
“Words will never be able to describe the trauma I went through. This has impacted me both physically and mentally, and things will never be the same.”
PC Jeevan Sahota, from Bedfordshire Police, who investigated this case, said: “First of all I would like to commend the strength and bravery of the victim. Hopefully seeing Hussain jailed will now provide her with some sense of justice, and with support, she will be able to move forward.
“Hussain was meticulous and organised in targeting the victim, and used almost all possible means of harassment, even creating anonymous phone numbers regularly, just to send the victim threatening messages, and will now spend lengthy time in prison where he can reflect on his actions.
“I would like to encourage anyone who has been subjected to harassment and stalking to come forward. We will believe you, we will listen and investigate your concerns.”
Detective Inspector Katherine Rivers, the force’s lead on stalking and harassment, said:
“You might not even realise you are the victim of a criminal offence, but I want to take this opportunity to reassure you that we will take the allegations seriously, and where offences are identified, will take the strongest action possible to put the offender before the courts.”
Stalking has been linked to some of the highest harm crimes, including domestic abuse, sexual offences and murder, and is most often about control of one person by another.
The mnemonic FOUR, Fixated, Obsessive, Unwanted, Repeated, describes stalking behaviour, and this contact can be in person, by gifts, or via social media, email or messaging apps.
To report stalking, call police on 101. In the case of an emergency, always dial 999.
Or you can call the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300, or speak with Paladin, the National Stalking Advocacy on 0203 866 4107.
If you’ve been affected by crime, Signpost can offer free, confidential help, whether you’ve reported it or not. Contact 0800 0282 887.