Page last updated at 16:46 GMT, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Anti-stalking laws needed to prevent 'destroyed' lives

From Democracy Live: Victim gives evidence on stalking

A victim of a terrifying stalking ordeal has said she is hopeful laws will be changed to tackle the problem.

Ann Moulds, 51, from Ayrshire, suffered more than two years of abuse and harassment.

She has given evidence to the Scottish Parliament's justice committee, backing proposals to criminalise stalking for the first time in Scotland.

She said: "It was a silent hidden crime, no longer is that going to be the case."

Ms Moulds was subjected to more than two years of torment from stalker Alex Reid and eventually fled her home.

During her ordeal, which began in 2004, she was "bombarded" with sexually explicit messages.

My daughter stopped coming home. She was scared to come back to the house.
Ann Moulds
Action Scotland Against Stalking

Speaking after her appearance at the committee, Ms Moulds told how the traumatic events had caused weight loss and her hair to start falling out.

But she had no idea her stalker was Reid, who pretended to be her friend and had offered to sleep on her couch if she got too scared by the harassment.

"I thought he was a supportive friend at that point," she said.

"Little did I know he was the same person that was stalking me."

Reid was charged with breach of the peace and convicted in 2008.

New offences

He was given 260 hours community service and three years' probation, despite experts describing it as "one of the worst ever" such cases.

Ms Moulds, who founded campaign group Action Scotland Against Stalking after her experience, said the lives of stalking victims were being "destroyed".

"The psychological impact is wide and ranging, not just on the victims, but also the victims' families," she said.

"My daughter stopped coming home. She was scared to come back to the house."

Alex Reid
Alex Reid subjected Ms Moulds to more than two years of torment

MSPs are considering two amendments to the Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill (Scotland), both of which were supported by Ms Moulds.

The Scottish government has proposed tightening breach of the peace legislation, with a new offence involving threatening, alarming or distressing behaviour.

Another amendment from Labour MSP Rhoda Grant provides for a new offence of stalking.

Both would carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Ms Moulds said she was "optimistic" that anti-stalking legislation would be introduced in Scotland.

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