Infatuation led to Gwersyllt man's terrifying pursuit of young woman

Reporter:

Jonathan Grieve

A young woman feared for her safety after a chance encounter in a charity shop led to a sustained campaign of harassment.

Victim Chloe Davies met David Challinor, 47, of Saxon Road, Gwersyllt, when he was working in the Capricorn Animal Rescue charity shop in Charles Street, Wrexham.

A court heard the pair chatted for about an hour, leading to Challinor sending more than 50 letters to Miss Davies, 21, at her place of work in Greggs, some of which were of a sexual, and later violent, nature.

Challinor also resumed a grudge against Cheshire Constabulary officer PC Stuart Needham which dated back to when Challinor used to work as a CCTV operator for the former Chester City Council and in May 2007 there was an incident in the CCTV room where Challinor accused the officer of assaulting him.

PC Needham denied ever assaulting Challinor and no further action was taken against him.

But after Challinor lost his job in April 2009, he went on to send letters accusing PC Needham of taking his career away and said he had serious thoughts about running over the police officer.

He was convicted of those offences in August 2011 and had not troubled the courts since, but his infatuation with Miss Davies stirred up old emotions.

Appearing before Wrexham Magistrates Court yesterday, Challinor pleaded guilty to harassment without violence and two charges of sending indecent and offensive messages.

He had already pleaded guilty earlier this month to a separate harassment allegation as well as a theft charge.

Rhian Jackson, prosecuting, said Miss Davies had met Challinor in August 2015 and the pair had chatted about books.

Miss Davies had felt awkward and wanted to leave but did not think any more about it following the conversation.

Soon after, she received a letter addressed to her place of work which included Challinor’s mobile number and a Snoopy book.

Initially Miss Davies did not think much of it but Challinor continued to send letters and began visiting the store on a regular basis.

The letters were not threatening or absuive but became more sexual in nature and made references to the book Lolita, in which a middle-aged man becomes obsessed with his 12-year-old stepdaughter.

In the letters Challinor told Miss Davies he thought about her when he masturbated, said Ms Jackson.

He also referred to PC Needham and Miss Davies found news articles detailing their previous issues after searching the internet.

At one point Miss Davies’ manager told Challinor she wanted nothing to do with him. Things stopped for a few months, until she received a letter which also contained £35 in cash.

Challinor was also warned off by Miss Davies’ boyfriend after a chance encounter outside Everland fish and chip shop.

Following that, Challinor promised the letters would stop but he did not keep to his word and they began to arrive every week.

In them, he wrote that it was Miss Davies’ fault that he had feelings towards her. He began calling her place of work but hung up whenever she answered. His number was blocked.

Eventually Miss Davies approached Challinor and told him in no uncertain terms that she wanted absolutely nothing to do with him.

He shook her hand and apologised, seeming to accept what she was saying – but the letters kept coming.

The most recent letter was dated January 12 and was more aggressive in nature. In it, he talked about getting even and taking the law into his own hands.

On January 13 Challinor sent messages to Cheshire Constabulary and the council in Chester bringing up his old grudge against PC Needham, who found its contents extremely offensive and disturbing.

The message to the council included a picture of PC Needham with a swear word written on his forehead.

Last November Challinor had also sent a message to the CSKA Karate club, in which PC Needham was involved.

The whole affair made PC Needham very nervous and he was in fear of violence being used against him.

He was always careful when leaving his home and it had a negative impact on his family life.

PC Needham was concerned the matter could undermine the public confidence in the police force.

On January 30 officers attended at Challinor’s home and found there were pictures of PC Needham on every outside facing wall of the house, along with the word “disgrace” written on them.

There were also offensive messages daubed on the walls.

There was no furniture in any of the rooms and the property appeared otherwise entirely empty but eventually they found Challinor, who had used a wardrobe to barricade himself into his bedroom.

He was arrested and charged but last Friday he went back to Greggs to see Miss Davies. He was shouting and swearing, and made offensive remarks about her.

Miss Davies went into the back and called the police, who arrested Challinor again.

He had also stolen three sandwiches and a drink.

The court heard the sustained 15-month period of harassment left Miss Davies feeling unsafe and worried, wondering when it would end and what the outcome would be.

Andy Holliday, defending, said the matter had caused a great deal of angst but Challinor had remained out of trouble for the five or six years since the original case.

He said the latest offences all stemmed from a one-hour conversation in which Challinor believed Miss Davies had been flirting with them.

After that, he had become infatuated and obsessed with her.

He accepted there was an age gap between them but had felt flattered by the attention.

Mr Holliday said the matter with Miss Davies had stirred up Challinor’s old feelings towards PC Needham, until he reached a state of almost frenzied behaviour.

District judge Gwyn Jones adjourned thecase until March 1 for a full pre-sentence report to be compiled and Challinor was bailed.

See full story in the Chester Leader

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