My stalking hell: Woman talks of her terror at the hands of obsessed colleague
A mental health worker was stalked by a senior psychiatric nurse who became obsessed with her at work.
Lindsay Yousmansworth, 27, was followed and intimidated by Guild Lodge psychiatric unit colleague Tony Wood, who is more than 30 years her senior.
The married dad-of-two, who was previously served a harassment notice, admitted stalking her over a period of nearly 18 months and has been given a suspended jail term at Preston Magistrates’ Court.
He bombarded the PhD student with texts and emails, and lay in wait in his car at home and at work.
Wood, from Goosnargh, near Preston, showered her with unwanted gifts and inappropriate sexualised messages – but then turned intimidating when she blocked his number.
She said: “When I first got to know Tony, I thought he was a friendly, family man. With the offer of extra shifts, a reference, lunch and presents I thought he was generous and had my best interests in mind.”
But trusting Lindsay Yousmansworth couldn’t have been more wrong.
What the bright 27-year-old mental health worker thought was a friendship turned into her worst nightmare as her older, more senior colleague embarked on a campaign of stalking and harassment.
Tony Wood, 62, of Goosnargh Lane, Goosnargh, was given a 76 day jail term suspended for 18 months, with a restraining order, curfew, rehabilitation activity and £500 compensation, after admitting the offence at Preston Magistrates’ Court.
The bench was told how he followed Lindsay at work, loitered at addresses in Preston connected to her, lay in wait in his car, sent messages and unwanted gifts – and turned up with a bottle of wine at her partner’s home - knowing her partner was working a nightshift.
In a victim impact statement Lindsay recalled how they had met five years ago through work.
She said: “Over three years later, my thoughts towards him could not have changed more drastically. I now know he used his position of power and trust to lure me in.
“It started with inappropriate messages. When he began broaching sexualised topics of conversation, I felt uncomfortable, not knowing how to respond. I found myself wondering why a 60 odd year-old man would try to talk to a 23 year-old girl about her having sex on holiday.”
But she chose to ignore his behaviour, fearing her position could be affected by speaking out against a senior member of staff in authority.
Wood then began contacting her on the wards and it became difficult to ignore him.
She recalls: “I did not want to be rude, I’m not that sort of person but I did start feeling embarrassed that he was ringing me so often and dictating my break time to the nurse in charge. I felt pressurised to meet up with him. I’d not even told him where I was working, or on what ward some days.
“It seemed strange and obsessive that he wanted to see me so much, that he was bothering to find out where I was when I had chosen not to tell him.
“One day Tony turned up out of the blue at work. This one time turned into two and soon before I knew it he was turning up regularly, making excuses for being at work on his days off.
“At this point I started becoming much more concerned that he had ‘a thing’ for me. All I wanted him to do was leave me alone but he didn’t seem to be going away.”
She tried to carry on as normal but felt spied on, even on her lunch break.
And his attitude became nasty and abusive - he told her she had “personality disorder” and needed counselling.
She says: “I was confused as to why he tried to charm me one minute, compliment my appearance, then turn nasty, threatening and abusive the next.
“I’d always wanted to resolve the situation informally but Tony made it clear that he didn’t intend to leave me alone. Although his behaviour at work and in the village was concerning, coming to see me at home when he knew I was on my own was much, much worse. I was more scared because I hadn’t ever told him this address, and the likelihood was that he had followed me there.”
She eventually complained to Lancashire police and he was served with a harassment notice – but his behaviour continued.
He made a counter complaint to their employer Lancashire Care Trust that Lindsay, from Bentham , near Lancaster, was stalking him.
She explained: “I just wanted him to get a clear message to leave me alone for good. I really thought that after the harassment warning, he would stop contacting me and turning up in places where I was. It soon became clear that he wasn’t deterred by the police’s involvement when he turned up at work and followed me again.
“I couldn’t believe he hadn’t listened to the police.
“I just wanted the situation to end. I felt like I had no other option but to raise a formal grievance about Tony’s behaviour. By this point I was anxious driving to work, knowing that Tony was often loitering around the village, running up and down the road, standing on the pavement or waiting in his car for me.
“I felt like he was fixated on getting revenge after I’d reported him to the police and put in the grievance at work. There’s been times he’s driven so close to my car that I’ve actually thought he’s going to crash into me. He overtook me and slammed his brakes on.
“I can’t understand why he would go to the length of getting up at 6.30am to wait for me. Why he would stare at me the way he does? Twice, when I’ve arrived at work I’ve been in a complete state, shaking and crying.”
Lindsay began struggling to sleep, and family members had to shadow her to work in case she was followed, the court heard.
It is understood Wood was not initially suspended by Lancashire Care Trust when the allegations came to light – he was moved to the Harbour hospital in Blackpool and continued to stalk her. He was later suspended.
A spokesperson for Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are aware that a member of staff has been given a suspended sentence following allegations relating to his misconduct.
“The Trust sets high standards for all staff and will always conduct an internal investigation when it is brought to our attention that these are not being met.
“Our main priority is to ensure that support is in place for any other staff members who have been affected. It would not be appropriate to comment any further whilst the internal investigation is ongoing.”