An innocent couple were branded “Fred and Rose West” by a neighbour in a hateful letter-writing campaign of “targeted harassment”.
Gillian Baines, a grandmother in Stockport, Greater Manchester, who has cancer, was sent messages in the post comparing her and husband Gordon Mears to the serial killers.
One called Mr Mears a “perverted t***” who wants “money for sexual favours” while another to Mrs Baines read: “Hope you are okay because, you see, you are going to need a new rape kit.”
Mr Mears, who has a heart stent and has PTSD, had to move out of the couple’s home in, as a result of the baseless allegations.
Mrs Baines said the hate campaign made her feel unsafe in her own home and has left her “feeling suicidal”, to the point where she sits in her garden and cries.
Police later arrested neighbour Helen Dodgson, 55, a former bingo hall worker and herself a grandmother of Cale Green, Stockport, over the offensive messages.
Mrs Baines, in a statement to police, said of the neighbour: “She has been targeting me since June 2020 and I cannot take it anymore.
“Every time I leave my address, she will shout abuse at me. I suffer from cancer, so the last thing I need is to be targeted at my home address.
“I’m trying to make the most of my life that could end any day.
“The abuse is affecting my mental health and I feel I can’t walk down my own street. Her behaviour leaves me feeling suicidal.
“Gordon has a heart stent and suffers from PTSD. He doesn’t need the unnecessary stress of this woman’s behaviour. I feel unsafe in my own home and neighbourhood because of her.
She added: “The whole situation is really upsetting me and making me feel depressed. I have got high strength anti-depressants, I just sit in my garden and cry. I do not leave my house if I see her outside.”
Dodgson admitted harassment at Tameside Magistrates Court’ and was banned from contacting the couple and another neighbour for 12 months under the terms of a restraining order.
She was made subject of a 12 month community order and was told to complete 100 hours of unpaid work.
The court heard that the two women, who lived opposite each other for six years, had previously been friends, but fell out in February 2020.
Initially they argued over a disabled parking bay outside Mrs Baines’s home.
But their relationship broke down when Dodgson accused Mr Mears of making “inappropriate comments” to her and a female friend on a trip to Manchester.
“That caused some anger with the complainant.” said Richard Blackburn, prosecuting.
Mrs Baines confronted Dodgson, which Mr Blackburn said “started the campaign of targeted harassment.”
He continued: “The complainant received a number of notes through the door from the defendant calling her ‘Rosemary West’ and telling her to ‘watch her back’ and talking about previous shootings in the area.
“In July 2020, she received a Facebook message referring to Mr Mears, calling him a ‘perverted t***’ who wanted ‘money for sexual favours’.
“She was at her home at 8am when more notes were posted through the letterbox addressed to her husband, calling them Fred and Rosemary West.”
Dodgson was interviewed and bailed but earlier this year renewed her campaign when she spotted Mr Mears dropping a friend off in the street.
During another rant she called him a “paedophile” and added: “You and Rose are going to get done for wasting police resources and time. The CCTV is great, and I’ve got you on camera.”
Defence lawyer James Riley said: “The defendant will say that the complainant’s husband made sexual advances and inappropriate comments to her and a friend and she was quite shocked when the complainant came round and started having a go at her.
“She regrets her actions, and ultimately, demonstrates remorse. She is trying to leave and get out of this situation and move to an area to be close to her daughter.”
A probation officer said Dodgson wrote letters about the “inappropriate discussion” with Mr Mears.
“Her way of dealing with this was writing it down but it built up to a crescendo”, he said.
“She understands that it was very upsetting and uncalled for. Since this matter, she has had no contact with her neighbours.”
Dodgson was also ordered to pay £595 in costs and surcharges.
Judges told her: “This was particularly nasty. If we had received those letters, we would have been very, very upset, and I am sure you realise that now – at least we hope you do!”