Me & Mum… held at gun­point

Marched from her home by armed po­lice, a ter­ri­fied Vic­to­ria Hardi­man, 42, from New­mar­ket, knew who was be­hind it

Pick Me Up! - - CONTENTS -

Hands up! As I opened the front door, all hell broke loose

Pil­ing his shop­ping on the counter, Steven Webb flashed me a cheeky smile.

‘Hello, beau­ti­ful, it’s your lucky day,’ he said. It was July 2013 and I loved work­ing in my vil­lage shop.

There were al­ways fa­mil­iar faces pop­ping in.

And Steven, then 41, who worked at the lo­cal horse stud, never failed to make me smile.

He popped in most days for his lunch, beers af­ter work.

‘I sup­pose I should do some work, then,’ I’d laughed.

A sin­gle mum with four kids – Lucy, then 19, Christina, then 17, and two boys at pri­mary school – I wasn’t look­ing for love. But Steven was so charm­ing. So, that month, when he in­vited me to din­ner, I said yes. We clicked, be­came an item. It wasn’t long be­fore I in­tro­duced him to the kids.

Steven loved play­ing foot­ball with my boys, would have my el­dest girls in stitches with his funny im­pres­sions.

In Jan­uary 2014, the boys and I moved into the cot­tage that came with Steven’s job.

To­gether, we made it our fam­ily home and life was good.

Steven would watch the boys af­ter school while I was at work. Only, Steven’s drink­ing started to bother me. He’d come into the shop every af­ter­noon, buy a four­pack of beer.

By the time I got home at 7pm, he’d have drunk them all.

Hardly a skin­ful, but I didn’t like him drink­ing when he was alone with the kids.


I won’t,’

Steven promised.

But he didn’t stop.

Still, keen to make our re­la­tion­ship work, I bit my lip.

Then, in April 2015, debt col­lec­tors turned up ask­ing for him. ‘Pre­tend

I don’t live here,’ he told my 11-year-old son.

I saw red.

‘Don’t ask my chil­dren to lie for you,’ I snapped. It was the fi­nal straw. ‘We’re leav­ing,’ I told Steven. The next day, I moved into my mum’s. Af­ter that, Steven avoided the shop when­ever I was work­ing. I was glad we were both get­ting on with our lives. Then, in Au­gust 2015, Steven sent me a photo of a let­ter made with let­ters cut from a news­pa­per. You’re a wife beater soon to be dead, it read. Why did you send me this? he texted. What?!

Of course I hadn’t sent it, I’d never even seen it be­fore.

My boss got a sim­i­lar, strange let­ter and, con­fused, we went

to New­mar­ket Po­lice Sta­tion. I was up­set and scared. Only one per­son could be be­hind this – Steven.

So much for wa­ter un­der the bridge.

The po­lice made an ap­point­ment for us the fol­low­ing week to have the in­ci­dent logged.

In the mean­time, my daugh­ter Lucy phoned me in tears. A let­ter had been sent to her dad’s house, too.

You’d bet­ter

watch out, it read. But it didn’t say who it was from.

She con­tacted the po­lice and we made a state­ment.

In Au­gust 2015, Steven Webb was is­sued with a for­mal warn­ing to stop send­ing let­ters.

I hoped it’d done the trick. But, at 11pm on 8 Septem­ber, I was awo­ken by a he­li­copter cir­cling over Mum’s house.

Still in my PJS, I peered out of the win­dow – to see the back gar­den lit up by he­li­copter lights.

The boys were asleep – so, check­ing they were OK, I went down­stairs to Mum’s room.

‘I don’t know what’s go­ing on,’ Mum said.

‘I’ll look out of the back door,’ I replied.

Then I saw lights at the front. I went to that door – and, as I opened it, all hell broke loose. ‘Hands up!’ a voice bel­lowed. Stunned, I did as I was told, then saw a po­lice of­fi­cer point­ing a gun at me.

More armed men were be­hind my car, in the bushes.

Dressed in black masks,

I left my job, had panic at­tacks, was ter­ri­fied of leav­ing the house

hel­mets and hold­ing shields, they looked ter­ri­fy­ing.

We were sur­rounded!

One marched me out of the house at gun­point.

An­other had Mum at gun­point, too.

I turned to check that she was OK.

‘Face for­ward and don’t look at her!’ an of­fi­cer yelled.

‘What’s go­ing on?’

I gulped, break­ing down as I stood out­side in my bare feet. ‘Please tell me!’

My heart was ham­mer­ing, and I was sick with fear.

Even­tu­ally, one of the of­fi­cers turned to me.

‘We’ve had a re­port that there’s been a shoot­ing in here. We need to search your house,’ he ex­plained.

‘There’s got to be some mis­take,’ I in­sisted. ‘Please don’t scare my boys, they’re asleep.’

Of­fi­cers searched the house for ev­i­dence of a shoot­ing.

‘Where did the call come from?’ I gasped. ‘From a phone box in a vil­lage called Ash­ley,’ the of­fi­cer ex­plained to me. The penny dropped. ‘It’s my ex!’ I cried. The phone was 50 yards from his house. Even­tu­ally, af­ter find­ing noth­ing, the po­lice left.

In the days that fol­lowed, I was cry­ing con­stantly, my nerves to­tally shat­tered. Un­be­liev­ably, the boys had slept through the whole thing, so they didn’t ask any ques­tions. Po­lice played me the 999 call. ‘It’s Steven!’ I screamed, feel­ing sick at hear­ing his voice. If he could put us through that, what else was he ca­pa­ble of?

The po­lice made en­quiries. Mean­while, I was too scared to sleep, was con­stantly on edge. Three months later, the po­lice were back. But not with news of Webb, though... ‘There’s been an anony­mous re­port to Crimestop­pers of a stab­bing here,’ the of­fi­cer said. ‘Your name’s been given.’ Again?!

‘I’ve no idea what you’re talk­ing about,’ I replied, ex­plain­ing about Webb. The of­fi­cers left but, 12 days later, they were back.

This time there’d been re­ports of a dead body in a car out­side Mum’s house. Af­ter find­ing noth­ing, the po­lice left. But then they got a call say­ing they were too late – that the body had al­ready been moved and buried. Again, po­lice played me the 999 record­ing.

‘It’s him again!’ I cried. ‘I’m not a crim­i­nal!’

The po­lice con­tin­ued to in­ves­ti­gate. But, in May 2016, I was called to the po­lice sta­tion.

This time, I’d been ac­cused of send­ing threat­en­ing Face­book mes­sages.

‘Would you like a solic­i­tor?’ an of­fi­cer asked.

‘I’ve got no idea what you’re talk­ing about,’ I sobbed.

I was a law-abid­ing woman, a sin­gle mum who’d never done any­thing wrong.

Yet, again, I was be­ing treated like a vi­o­lent crim­i­nal.

The of­fi­cer ex­plained that mes­sages had been sent from what looked like my Face­book ac­count, to Webb.

Lucky I haven’t had you killed. I al­ways get what I want, one read.

‘I didn’t write that!’ I gasped.

The ac­count was fake – and, when I looked at the time and date, I re­alised the mes­sage had been sent when I was tak­ing the boys to foot­ball train­ing.

‘Please trace the IP ad­dress,’ I pleaded with them.

While the po­lice in­ves­ti­gated, I lived in fear of what Webb would do next.

What new, twisted and in­ven­tive way would he use to ex­act his re­venge?

I left my job, had panic at­tacks and was ter­ri­fied of leav­ing the house. Fi­nally, Webb was charged. Last Oc­to­ber, Steven Webb, 46, ap­peared at Ip­swich Mag­is­trates Court.

He pleaded guilty to four counts of com­mit­ting an act with in­tent to per­vert the course of pub­lic jus­tice.

The court heard that he’d made false 999 calls, a false re­port to Crimestop­pers and sent ma­li­cious mes­sages via Face­book.

He was jailed for two years, is­sued with a re­strain­ing or­der pre­vent­ing him from mak­ing any con­tact with me.

I broke down.

‘It’s over,’ I sobbed to my daugh­ter Christina.

It meant that I could fi­nally stop liv­ing in fear.

Now I’ve got a new job, and life is back to nor­mal.

I still can’t be­lieve Webb put me through all this, as re­venge for be­ing dumped.

But I sur­vived two years of hell. Now I know

I can cope with any­thing.

Gun-wield­ing of­fi­cers turned up in the night…

Can I fi­nally stop liv­ing in fear?

Schem­ing Webb was out for re­venge

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