Chip shop stalker

A men­ace left Char­lotte Ken­dall, 20, from Ha­vant, too ter­ri­fied to go out alone…

Pick Me Up! Special - - Contents -

Scoop­ing fries into the pa­per, I chat­ted away to a reg­u­lar cus­tomer.

‘En­joy your dinner,’ I smiled, hand­ing him his fish and chip sup­per.

It was an Oc­to­ber evening last year, around 8.15pm, and we were about to hit our qui­etest part of the day.

I’d worked in the chippy for three years and loved it.

When I’d first started the job, I’d been a shy teenager with buck­ets of nerves.

Now I was con­fi­dent and had a great rap­port with the reg­u­lars.

As I cleaned down the work­tops, I heard the door swing open.

‘Por­tion of fish and chips, please,’ said a man with a bald head and stub­ble.

‘Of course,’ I replied with my usual grin.

Heap­ing chips onto the pa­per, I no­ticed the man was stand­ing very close to the counter.

I as­sumed he was smelling the chips.

‘I’m a po­lice of­fi­cer,’he then blurted.

Nod­ding and smil­ing, I placed his cod on top.

‘There’s been quite a few mur­ders round here,’ he said. ‘Oh, right,’ I replied. ‘It’s a bad neigh­bour­hood this,’ he added.

I knew he was talk­ing non­sense, and he seemed very odd.

Still, he was a cus­tomer, so I just smiled at him.

‘How long have you worked here? Where do you live? What’s your name?’ he barked.

One ques­tion af­ter an­other. That’s a bit much, I thought. His gaze fixed on me, and I sud­denly felt un­com­fort­able. ‘That’s £5.20,’ I stut­tered, ig­nor­ing his ques­tions and hand­ing him his food. I hoped he’d see it as his cue to leave. But he just car­ried on. Not once did he take his eyes off me as he wit­tered

on, ask­ing end­less ques­tions.

When I moved, so did he.

My boss was clean­ing nearby and no­ticed what was go­ing on.

‘We’re clos­ing now, thank you,’ she said sternly.

Thank­fully, the strange bloke left.

But by then, he’d been ha­rass­ing me for 20 min­utes.

‘He was start­ing to freak me out,’ I said, re­lieved. I tried to for­get about it. Only, two weeks later, I was chat­ting to a reg­u­lar about my up­com­ing hol­i­day to Corn­wall.

‘I can’t wait, all those pasties and ice creams,’ I laughed. I heard the door swing open. Look­ing over to­wards the en­trance, I felt my stom­ach drop. Him again! See­ing the fear on my face, my boss stepped in. ‘How can I help?’ she asked. He placed his or­der with her, but he stared right at me the whole time

he was speak­ing. I gri­maced.

What’s his prob­lem? I thought. He was send­ing shiv­ers down my spine and I felt so un­com­fort­able.

Again, I tried to for­get about him af­ter he’d left.

Only, one evening, I was scrolling through work emails.

I was also an an­i­mal por­trait artist, draw­ing peo­ple’s pets.

One new mes­sage.

I’d like a com­mis­sion, please. This is my num­ber… it read.

Great! I thought. At the end of the mes­sage were a dozen kisses.

I found that a bit strange, but I de­cided to ig­nore it.

I needed the money, and a

com­mis­sion was a com­mis­sion. What por­trait are you look­ing for? I texted. Within sec­onds, my phone bleeped again. How old are you? Are you sin­gle? it said. What on earth?! The phone bleeped again. A mes­sage about my up­com­ing hol­i­day to Corn­wall. I was shocked. How did this per­son know so much about me? An­other mes­sage came through on the phone. You work with food, right? I know the hours you work.

By now, I was re­ally start­ing to freak out.

But as more mes­sages streamed in, some­thing sud­denly clicked. It was him. The creepy guy from the chippy.

I re­alised he must’ve picked up one of the an­i­mal por­trait busi­ness cards I dis­played in the chip shop.

The cards had my phone num­ber on them.

Over the next hour, he sent around 50 mes­sages. And he tried to call me dozens of times, too. Ter­ri­fied, I blocked his num­ber. Then I knocked on my mum’s bed­room door.

‘Look at these,’ I cried, show­ing my mum, Co­lette, 53, the mes­sages. She was shocked and wor­ried. ‘I think we should go to the po­lice,’ Mum said. So I did. ‘He’s known to us, his name is Terry Way­mark,’ an of­fi­cer said.

All they could say was that he had a his­tory of ha­rass­ing women.

Of­fi­cers sug­gested I send one re­ply, telling Way­mark not to contact me again.

Then, if he did, they would take ac­tion against him. Do­ing as they said, I sent a text to Way­mark and then waited for him to re­ply. Mean­while, I changed my shifts at work, hop­ing I could avoid bump­ing into him again. But I was a ner­vous wreck from then on. I didn’t know this creep – or what he was ca­pa­ble of. A mil­lion things raced through my mind when I imag­ined what he could do to me. ‘You’ve been so quiet,’ my boss said. Mum would have to walk me to and from work ev­ery day, and some­times I’d take my lurcher Rosie along. Check­ing over my shoul­der wher­ever I went, I felt like he was watch­ing me. Wait­ing. And, a few days later, more mes­sages came through. Can I call you? What you do­ing?

I knew it was him, us­ing a dif­fer­ent num­ber.

I no­ti­fied the po­lice straight away, and this time, they ar­rested him im­me­di­ately.

Thank­fully, with my call log and the screen­shots of mes­sages, of­fi­cers had enough ev­i­dence to charge him.

And, to my relief, he was held on remand.

In March this year, Terry Way­mark, 36, ap­peared at Portsmouth Crown Court, charged with stalk­ing in­volv­ing se­ri­ous alarm or dis­tress.

He de­nied ev­ery­thing, so I had to give ev­i­dence. Ter­ri­fied, I cried through­out my part of the hear­ing.

It was hor­ri­ble hav­ing to re­count how he had made me feel.

But Way­mark was found guilty, jailed for four years and handed an in­def­i­nite re­strain­ing or­der.

And it turned out that I wasn’t his first vic­tim, ei­ther. He’d pre­vi­ously been jailed for ha­rass­ing an­other woman and send­ing threat­en­ing let­ters.

He was also a con­victed ar­son­ist. Chill­ing. I’m just glad we’re all safe now that he’s locked up. If I hadn’t have gone to the po­lice when I did, who knows how far Way­mark would have gone.

I shud­der to think what he could have done to me.

Even though he’s locked up now, his ac­tions have had a last­ing im­pact on my life.

I’m no longer tak­ing lo­cal por­trait com­mis­sions, and barely go out alone. All be­cause of him.

I wasn’t his only vic­tim

I’d just been po­lite to him

He found me through my il­lus­tra­tions

My ev­i­dence con­victed him

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