Prison officer made life `hell' for his au pair

A PRISON OFFICER made the life of his young French au pair and lover "hell" through a campaign of harassment after she ended their relationship and became an air stewardess, magistrates at Harlow, Essex, were told yesterday.

Stuart Billingham, 52, a Prison Officer at Shrewsbury jail, sent letters to the airline calling Nathalie Ehlinger, 27, "a liar and a cheat". He distributed copies of a similar letter to ground staff and the public at Stansted airport, and to shoppers in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire.

Mr Billingham, of Severn Meadows, Shrewsbury, who represented himself, denies two charges under Section 2 of the Prevention of Harassment Act relating to the letters.

Ms Ehlinger, who now works for Air UK at Stansted, was close to tears as she testified. She told the court that he had put her through "four years of hell".

"I feel really awful. I have never cheated and I have never lied," she told the court.

David Rothera, for the prosecution, said Ms Ehlinger began a relationship with Mr Billingham, who has two children, after beginning work as a live- in au pair in 1992.

After a year she returned to France to take a course with the intention of becoming an airline stewardess, starting work for Air UK in 1995.

The letters that Mr Billinghamsent her employers last year claimed she had lied about her health and other matters to get her job. He accused her of being willing to "tell as many lies as it took to get the job".

Mr Rothera said the accusations - which included that Ms Ehlinger suffered serious problems with a knee - were untrue. Ms Ehlinger said she had once had her knee checked by doctors after suffering a fall, but that it was found to be perfectly healthy.

Ms Ehlinger told the court that Mr Billingham obtained a court order against her for pounds 46 for returning her belongings to France. She paid the money because she was "frightened."

But it was the letters to her employer and those distributed at the airport which had upset her the most. "I felt very humiliated. I've been going through hell for the past four years. I was scared of losing my job," she told the court.

During Mr Billingham's questioning, she said: "I wanted you to stop writing the letters and to stop harassing me." The trial continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be joining an ISO 9001...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Bookkeeper - German Speaking - Part Time

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

Ashdown Group: Field Service Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...

Day In a Page

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk
Nepal earthquake: One man's desperate escape from Everest base camp after the disaster

Escape from Everest base camp

Nick Talbot was sitting in his tent when the tsunami of snow and rock hit. He was lucky to live, unlike his climbing partner just feet away...
Adopting high fibre diet could dramatically cut risk of bowel cancer, says study

What happened when 20 Americans swapped diets with 20 Africans?

Innovative study in the US produces remarkable results
Blake Lively and 'The Age of Adaline': Gossip Girl comes
of age

Gossip girl comes of age

Blake Lively is best known for playing an affluent teenager. Her role as a woman who is trapped forever at 29 is a greater challenge
Goat cuisine: Kid meat is coming to Ocado

Goat cuisine

It's loved by chefs, ethical, low in fat and delicious. So, will kid meat give lamb a run for its money?
14 best coat hooks

Hang on: 14 best coat hooks

Set the tone for the rest of your house with a stylish and functional coat rack in the hallway
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?