Stalker Geoffrey Cromack fitted a tracker to his victim's car and spied on her Scarborough home
A stalker who used binoculars and a tracking device to hound a terrified woman during a nightmarish, nine-month “harassment campaign” has been jailed for over six years.
Geoffrey Cromack’s “persistent and obsessive” stalking of the woman - during which he fitted a tracking device to her car and turned up at her workplace in Scarborough - left her so distraught she had to move home, York Crown Court heard.
Cromack, 61, used binoculars to spy on the victim in her home from his vantage point in a public area opposite her house near Scarborough town centre, where he would hide in bushes.
“The defendant was repeatedly seen opposite her house…early in the morning and late at night,” said prosecutor Jeremy Barton.
Neighbours would hear the woman, who was younger than Cromack, shouting for them to call police after spotting him “walking up and down the street, having parked his car nearby”. On at least one occasion, they had to “chase (Cromack) off”.
By January this year, the victim – who had been in a relationship with Cromack, her former work colleague, until she broke it off last summer – had made numerous reports to police about his behaviour which included him bombarding her with “unpleasant” text messages.
“On January 9, the defendant was reported again in the vicinity of her property…and could be seen ducking down in undergrowth opposite her house, (using) binoculars to look up at her windows, hiding in bushes,” said Mr Barton.
“She found this extremely upsetting.”
Police were called to the scene where they found Cromack with a tracking device, similar to the one he had attached to the wheel arch of the victim’s car.
Officers searched his home in Eastfield and found an illegal firearm and ammunition, namely a single-shot, “Western-type” revolver, found under his bed, and 50 Rimfire live cartridges with no firearms certificate.
Officers also discovered more tracking devices, the like of which Cromack had fitted to the victim’s car while on bail and subject to an electronic curfew which banned him from the victim’s street.
At around this time, one of the victim’s male work colleagues started visiting her home. This infuriated Cromack, who was still spying on the victim’s home despite being banned from her street.
On February 13, the named man received a typed letter through the post that was ostensibly from an “anonymous work colleague of (the victim)” and addressed to his wife.
In the letter, Cromack told the man’s wife that her husband was in a relationship with his ex-partner. The letter was read by the man’s wife who suffered an “immense deal of distress and anxiety”.
Police had secretly fitted a tracking device to Cromack’s car, which showed that between April and June, he had been to “places of interest to (the victim)”, including her workplace on at least three occasions, where he would “hang around” outside.
On occasions, the victim would be driving to work when Cromack’s car would appear. She said she recognised his car from the “numerous times he had followed her in the past”.
On other occasions, the victim would see Cromack’s car parked opposite hers in a supermarket car park while she was shopping, “so she knew he was around”.
She was so distressed she had CCTV and a panic button installed at her home. She had to change where she shopped and her route to work, and stayed at the homes of friends and family because she was too afraid to stay home alone.
The victim thought she would be safe at her parents’ house - but Cromack stalked her there too, said Mr Barton.
“She felt there was no escape from him,” he added.
She had since moved home because of the devastating effect that Cromack’s behaviour had had on her.
Cromack, of Overdale Gardens, appeared for sentence on Thursday after admitting two counts of stalking and possessing an illegal firearm and ammunition between March and June this year. However, it was acknowledged that his stalking behaviour dated back to August last year.
Defence barrister Anthony Parkinson said the firearm played no part in any of the stalking incidents and had in fact been found by Cromack at his late parents’ home and had been in the family “many years”.
He said that Cromack was a “keen runner” but now had serious mobility issues and had been prescribed anti-depressants.
Cromack had never been in trouble before and had been a “hard-working man” who raised money for charity.
“The offences arose out of the defendant’s obsession with the victim and an obsession with the relationship they once had,” said Mr Parkinson.
Judge Sean Morris said Cromack couldn’t accept the end of a relationship with a younger woman.
“Instead, you embarked upon a campaign of harassment over a nine-month period,” added Mr Morris.
“You were arrested during the course of these nine months, bailed by the courts and continued to stalk and no doubt terrify your victim. This was sophisticated, planned and determined (stalking).”
The judge said he accepted that Cromack didn’t intend to use the firearm but described it as a “lethal” weapon which “worryingly, was just under your bed”.
Jailing Cromack for six-and-a-half years, he told the defendant: “This is your first prison sentence…and it will be a hard one.”
Mr Morris granted a prosecution request for a lifetime restraining order banning Cromack from contacting the victim or going near her home, but deferred a decision on the details of the exclusion zone because it would seek to prevent the defendant going to any places “of interest” to the victim and may also include a ban on Cromack contacting some of her friends.