A woman is due to be sentenced today at Leicester Crown Court after she waged a three-year campaign of harassment against a man with whom she had a one-night stand. She also admitted five computer-related offences and perverting the course of justice.
This is a stalking case with added technology. Cyber-bunnyboiler Anita Debnath became obsessed with a her boss, Chay Ankers, after an affair that lasted a single night. Ankers and Debnath worked together at a logistics company in Coventry. Over the next three years she hired hackers to break into his email account, set up a website claiming he was gay, followed him and his girlfriend on their holiday to Venezuela.
Ankers told the Daily Mirror: "Everyone's had a one-night stand and realised afterwards they have made a mistake. But you don't expect it to lead to this."
After their tryst, Debnath contacted Ankers sporadically. Once to invite him to join her in a hotel room, and four months later to accuse him of infecting her with the sexually transmitted disease Chlamydia. By this time, Ankers was six weeks into a relationship with Melanie Hamlet, an artist. They were both tested for the disease, but were not infected.
Debnath used a web forum, Avengers Den, to get tips on how to wage her campaign against both Ankers and his new girlfriend. Over the ensuing months, she went to Hamlet and Ankers' local pub, moved to the same town as the pair, sent letters to Hamlet claiming Ankers was having affairs, coated Hamlet's car with paint stripper, and on another occasion, slashed its tyres.
Next she sent gay porn to Ankers' house, and set up a website, www.chayisgay.com. She set up an email address is his name, and sent messages to 100 ex-colleagues implicating Ankers in stalking her.
The campaign culminated in an attack on his email. Debnath hired Far Eastern hackers, the court heard, to break into Ankers' email account using a trojan. The Mirror claims that such services can be obtained for between £25 and £45.
The hackers sent an email to Ankers, apparently from a Hotmail account, saying that his computer had a virus, and that he should follow the instructions to remove it.
"It contained a hyperlink to the Internet with an embedded file behind it," Ankers told the newspaper. "It gave them an open door into my email account."
His inbox contained emails he had exchanged with the police, and details of a planned holiday to Venezuela with Hamlet. Debnath actually flew to Venezuela, but by then Ankers and Hamlet had made new plans.
Tracey Morgan, director of support group Network For Surviving Stalking, told the paper: "This case is horrifying. People are becoming more and more aware of electronic stalking. The internet, emails and texting are fantastic tools, but in the wrong hands they can be instruments of terror."
Debnath will be sentenced today. She was remanded in custody last month after admitting the charges against her, but the case was adjourned pending a psychiatric report. ®