Love-struck Scarborough woman jailed after attacking former boss with hammer

A love-struck Scarborough woman who became “infatuated” with her female boss and attacked her with a hammer has been jailed for four years.

By Court Reporter
Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 3:00 pm

Naomi Wheeler, 31, told a psychiatrist she planned to kill her manager by “stoving her head in” and also “hammer to death” her ex-teacher.

Wheeler made a beeline for the Blue Dolphin Holiday Park in Filey where she went looking for her ex-boss with the intention of “causing havoc”, York Crown Court heard.

Wheeler, who was “fixated” and “obsessed” with the victim, ran at her with the hammer and was about to strike when another staff member appeared and took her to ground.

Naomi Wheeler.

It was the culmination of a four-month stalking campaign in which Wheeler bombarded the woman with phone calls and text messages and even sent her a card with her “scent on it”, said prosecutor Gerald Hendron.

He said Wheeler had been referred to a clinical psychologist to “work with her on relationships and help manage her emotions”.

During her fourth appointment with the psychiatrist on June 28, Wheeler, from Scarborough, told him she had been hearing voices in her head and “wanted to physically harm (the named victim) and another person - a female teacher and (former) deputy head”.

The teacher, who now worked at a university, had taught Wheeler when she was at secondary school.

Wheeler told the shrink she wanted to kill her and “my old boss”.

“She said she wanted to hammer them to death,” said Mr Hendron.

She had been “obsessing over (her ex-teacher) for 14 years” and made “detailed plans, including doing Google searches, drawing maps and how she intended to use a hammer to strike the victim”.

“She said it was her intention to carry out these (attacks) when she had finished the appointment,” added Mr Hendron.

The psychiatrist told her to wait in his room while he called police but when he returned, she had disappeared.

Wheeler left the building and was on her way to the holiday park – with a hammer inside her bag.

“Just after 2pm, Rob Smith, the maintenance manager at Blue Dolphin, became aware that (Wheeler) was walking onto the caravan park,” said Mr Hendron.

Wheeler told Mr Smith she had an interview with her former manager.

Mr Smith, who didn’t know Wheeler, had no reason to doubt her and pointed her in the victim’s direction.

It was only when Wheeler walked up to two other staff members who had “shocked looks” on their faces that Mr Smith realised something was wrong and began following her.

One of them told him that Wheeler was banned from the site and another informed the victim that Wheeler was looking for her and walking in her direction.

The victim got in her car and saw Wheeler, who was being chased by Mr Smith, running towards her, shouting her name.

“(The victim) tried to drive away from her,” said Mr Hendron.

“As she did so, the defendant pulled out a hammer from her bag and tried to attack her with it.”

The victim managed to steer away from her and Mr Smith told Wheeler to drop the hammer.

She refused, at which point he tripped her up and took her to ground, before disarmed her.

As he did so, Wheeler told him: “I told my psychiatrist I was coming to kill (the named victim). They didn’t believe me.”

Staff at the caravan park, also known as The Haven, called police who turned up to arrest Wheeler.

She was taken to Scarborough Police Station and seen by a psychiatric nurse.

Wheeler told the nurse that “once she gets out of here, no-one is safe”.

“She said she had gone to the caravan site ‘to stove a woman’s head in’ and she had no regrets,” added Mr Hendron.

“She told the nurse that the look of fear on the woman’s face gave her a buzz.”

During a search of Wheeler’s home, police found a notepad on which she had drawn pictures of herself “attacking another person” and written threats that “people were all going to die”.

When officers asked her what she would do if she were set free from the police station that day, she said that the victim would “probably be in danger and that she would not stop”.

“She said there were other people in the caravan park she wanted to kill as well,” said Mr Hendron.

“She said she was a danger to people and that people needed to be protected from her.”

Wheeler, of Sussex Street, Scarborough, was charged with stalking, making threats to kill and possessing an offensive weapon.

She admitted the offences and appeared for sentence via video link on Friday (Nov 26) after being remanded in custody.

The court heard that the victim was a well-liked cleaner manager at the holiday park where Wheeler had worked since April 2018.

For the first year there was no problem with Wheeler’s work or behaviour and the manager “looked after her”.

But then Wheeler began misinterpreting text messages which her manager sent to all her staff, which she always ended with a ‘x’.

“(Wheeler) thought that was (the victim) wanting to be more intimate with her,” said Mr Hendron.

“Wheeler told one member of staff that she was in love with (her boss).”

The staff member relayed this to the manager who maintained a professional relationship with Wheeler but otherwise tried to avoid her.

By 2020, Wheeler - whose “infatuation” with the victim turned into an “obsession” - was drinking heavily.

Wheeler started bombarding her boss with text messages, asking if she could return to work at the holiday park.

The victim ignored the texts and did not hear from her again until March 2021, when she was again inundated with “nasty” texts and Facebook messages.

In April, the victim received a card in the post “with Wheeler’s scent on it”.

“This alarmed her as she had never told (Wheeler) where she lived,” said Mr Hendron.

On June 28, Wheeler - who had been blocked from texting or Facebook-messaging the victim - emailed her ex-manager’s office asking for a “fresh start” and “another chance” to resume her cleaning duties.

Her emails were sent to police.

Wheeler’s former teacher said she had been left in a “constant state of anxiety” since her ex-pupil bombarded her with “aggressive” emails and Facebook messages after discovering she worked at a university.

She said the stalking had had a “devastating effect” on her and her family and had “altered my life in so many ways”.

Rukhshanda Hussain, for Wheeler, said: “These are incredibly concerning offences and it is clear this defendant suffers mental-health issues which, if left unchecked, will result in her being a risk to others.”

Recorder Simon Kealey QC said Wheeler was a danger to the public and her behaviour had had a “very serious psychological effect on both your victims”.

She was jailed for four years and ordered to serve an extended two-year period on licence upon her eventual release from prison.

"She was told she would have to serve at least two-thirds of that jail sentence behind bars and that it would be down to the Parole Board to decide if she was safe to be released at that point.

Wheeler was also served with a lifetime restraining order banning her from contacting the two victims and going to their homes or workplaces.