London

Writer's stalker jailed over rape and murder novel

A stalker who wrote an online novel about raping and murdering a children's writer has been jailed for six months.

Greg Downing began harassing Katharine Quarmby, of north London, after she stopped dating him in 2008, Blackfriars Crown Court heard.

The mother-of-two discovered the novel after searching her own name on internet search engine Google.

Downing, 40, of Crowborough, East Sussex, admitted putting a person in fear of violence earlier this year.

Safety fear

He was convicted of stalking Ms Quarmby on three separate occasions before she found the blog online after typing her name into Google.

The 29-page piece written by Downing included stalking the writer, burgling her home, raping and murdering her.

In a witness statement read out in court, she said: "This seems like a fantasy or story which includes harassment, burglary of my home, rape and then finally murder.

"I am entirely worried about my personal safety and also my children's safety.

"I feel as though I am a prisoner in my own home, despite help from the police I still feel at risk.

"The threats made were of a very serious nature."

Previous to this incident, Downing had already been convicted over harassment of Ms Quarmby and subsequent order breaches.

Breached restraining order

The writer was nominated for the Orange Prize for short story fiction for her book Fussy Freya in 2005, and, as a journalist, she has worked for the BBC, The Economist as well as several national newspapers.

She initially reported Downing to police after he bombarded her with texts, calls and e-mails.

In 2008, magistrates gave him a conditional discharge and issued a restraining order but the harassment continued.

He received a community order in January 2009 but breached that the following year.

Judge Deva Pillay, sentencing Downing, of Beacon Road, said: "It is clear that your harassment of Miss Quarmby has been deliberate and premeditated so as to cause her and her family the maximum discomfort, embarrassment and fear."

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