Online stalker who “handpicked” his victims

Stalker Callum Blake-O’brien has created several fake social media accounts to send women to what prosecutors described as “incredibly horrible” messages. A teenager left “emotionally numb” by his unrelenting abuse, “he said, ” in the hand” his victims to cause maximum distress.

“When I read it, I felt really sick. She speaks of rape and torture.

“I took a screenshot. It has been very long and extremely graphic detail.”

Gemma, this is not his real name, has told the BBC how she got her first message from him one night in March 2017, when she was in her bedroom.

“I’ve only read the first few lines, I could not read on and my parents read the rest.

“My mother said:” you should go to the police”. I was freaked out.”

Gemma, who was then 17 years old, first asked whether the message has been “a kind of joke”.

She tried to know who had sent it, but the communication was from an anonymous account that had been disabled.

“At the time I read it, it had already created another account and start sending other troubling messages.

“The messages included a told me that I should not be afraid of dark alleys, because he prefers the light of day.”

They then started to include personal information about Gemma’s family, including his father’s work. We even mentioned his name to the colour of the eyes.

“I have written” who is this? “and asked,” why are you doing this?'”

Blake-O’brien, of Hereford, to the sending of multiple messages abusive in response.

In a few days, her family had reported the messages to West Mercia Police.

If Gemma went to the police station armed with screen shots, she has been disappointed by the response of the officer.

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“He told me that the man was not a direct threat to me and that there was no chance of finding him, because a proxy server was involved.”

She said that he suggested to delete her Facebook account, she was reluctant to do as she has used it for his part-time job.

“I had the impression of being rejected as a young girl who was being overdramatic.”

The student, from Hereford, said a second officer, she saw, had taken “a few weeks” to submit a Child Exploitation and Online Protection report.

The reports are made by persons or authorities worried about the abuse on the internet, or how someone is communicating online, and must be filed immediately.

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“The rejection by the police made me feel even more isolated,” said Gemma, now aged 18 years.

“I did deactivate my account a few times and kept blocking him, but he created new accounts.

“All in all, he has sent me about 75 to 100 messages from up to five different accounts.

“I became emotionally numb to the messages, but the feeling that he could hurt me has never disappeared.

“I felt that I couldn’t get out and became worried, and I’ve never been so impatient before.”

After a few weeks, the messages stopped abruptly. April and May passed without incident, but the respite was short-lived.

“I was on the phone to my friend when I received another request message in June. I knew exactly what he was and who he was. I was devastated.

“It gave me a little false hope, when he stopped between April and June, and I thought that he had finally received the message.”What to do if you are the victim of harassment What makes someone a stalker?Victims of criminal harassment to be “failed”

Gemma reluctantly, went to the police, but this time saw a female officer and a detective, who she said “took it seriously”.

“I think that she understood his power and how I felt.”

The officers soon linked the case to a police report by another woman who had received similar messages.

Two weeks later, Blake O’brien was arrested.

“When I learned that he was arrested in the centre of Hereford, I completely cracked. It was the thought that he could have passed me several times,” Gemma recalls.

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Her shock was compounded when police told him the suspect’s name – it was someone who had known his brother.

“He had to hand to all of us; he knew us or had been in contact with us.”

The Crown Prosecution Service, said Blake-O’brien targeted several women.

The 25-year-old knew some of the victims and was acquainted with the other, he said.Midlands Live: Church stabbing suspect found dead in prison; offers to buy hidden pieces in piano

At Worcester Crown Court, he admitted counts against 10 women and was given last month to a prison sentence of two and a half years.

Seven offences of stalking involving fear of violence, while three involved sending an electronic communication of an indecent or offensive nature.

Blake-O’brien will spend 15 months for the license, and has also been handed a 10-year order of protection in the prohibition to enter in contact with one of his victims.

It is also prohibited to use any device capable of accessing the internet, except if it has the capacity to retain and display the history of use online.

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Relieved her stalker has been bought to justice, in looking back, Gemma feels upset about the way the case was handled.

She wants Facebook to introduce a support service so that people can easily report online abuse and believes the police, the prosecution and the defence lawyers had a “limited understanding” of how social media worked.

“[That] should not be the case, because these crimes will increase in the future.

“I’m a teenager and I couldn’t enjoy the whole year of my life.”

Det Insp Ross Jones, of West Mercia Police, urged anyone who is unhappy with the way they were treated by officers to file a complaint with the police.

He also praised the victims for coming forward.

“Their bravery has played a key role in the realization of the penalty of deprivation of liberty.

“Despite this, I know that the victims of such crimes can have long-lasting effects on their mental health and well-being.

“All the people who said that Blake-O’brien offences we have been offered specialist counselling to assist them.

“West Mercia Police is working hard to ensure that all officers know how to deal with reports of offences of this type, and will continue to do so.”