Tuesday, July 29, 2014
A Budleigh Salterton man who admitted stalking a waitress, following her around and breaking into her Exmouth home, has received a suspended jail sentence.
A retired headmaster from Budleigh Salterton who became obsessed with a café waitress showered her with gifts and broke into her home to steal photographs of her.
Married Peter Foreman developed a ‘creepy’ obsession for Helen Beer which led to him stalking her for six months in which he followed her around and broke into her home.
Exeter Crown Court heard he bombarded her with gifts worth more than £1,000, including bunches of flowers costing up to £190 each, Dior perfume, a Hermes scarf worth £290, and chocolates.
She kept the gifts rather than returning them and this fuelled his fixation, leading him to invite her on a trip to the Channel Isles, which she turned down.
Foreman became a daily visitor to Jotty’s Café in Budleigh Salterton where Miss Beer worked; he also watched her through the window.
The court heard Foreman’s obsession became more sinister when he went to her home in Exmouth, Devon, and got in using a key he found under a plant pot.
He took photographs from a kitchen drawer and used one to create a false business card in Miss Beer’s name which purported to show her offering escort services.
Married Foreman, aged 64, of East Street, Budleigh Salterton, admitted harassment and was jailed for four months, suspended for two years and ordered to receive two years supervision.
He was also banned from contacting Miss Beer, or going near Jotty’s Café, or her Exmouth Docks home.
Judge Phillip Wassall said he was mystified why a man with an exemplary record, who had devoted his life to teaching primary school children, should start behaving in this way at his age.
He said Foreman became “fixated” with Miss Beer and “showered her with gifts”.
Mr Gordon Richings, prosecuting, said Foreman went to the café as a customer over a three year period.
He said: “He appears to have developed an obsession with Miss Beer. The prosecution must stress that it did not develop into a sexual relationship. Miss Beer was never in a relationship with the defendant.”
Mr Richings added: “They used to chat but in her words, his attentions became creepy.”
The court heard how Foreman asked Miss Beer if she wanted to go horse riding with him or on a day trip to Jersey. He began lurking outside the café and she changed the locks at her home after realising someone had been inside.
The prosecution said Miss Beer continued to receive and accept gifts from Foreman for occasions – such as her birthday - but that appeared to raise his hopes and maintain his interest in her.
In March this year Miss Beer received a mock business card of an escort agency in the post bearing a photo of herself. It had been taken from her home.
She called in the police and officers found the stolen photos at Foreman’s home.
Mr Nick Bradley, defending, said Foreman had an exceptional record as a primary school head teacher.