Harvey Nichols victim had reported stalker to police

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The Independent Online

On Tuesday night, just 20 minutes before the exclusive Knightsbridge store Harvey Nichols was about to close, he carried out his threat. Mr Pech walked calmly into the store and wended his way through the brightly-lit counters proffering expensive scents and luxury treats.

Smartly dressed and familiar with the shop he had worked in just months earlier, he did not attract attention. He walked up to the La Prairie counter, and without a word of warning, took a gun and pumped three to five bullets into the 22-year-old beauty counter worker.

As hysterical pandemonium broke out around him, he shot himself. While diners on the fifth floor remained oblivious, shoppers ran for their lives as the two bloodied bodies lay on the floor. Yesterday, it emerged that Ms Bernal had done her best to free herself from Mr Pech, a Czech national, after a brief relationship with him.

Fellow worker Meilan Baxter-Cockbill said: "He had broken up with her at first in around January or February time, but the security guard changed his mind and decided he loved her. He tried to win her back but she wasn't interested and he told her, 'If I can't have you nobody will.' Nobody took it very seriously and at the time she didn't think he was being serious either until he started pestering and ringing her."

When she told him that she wanted nothing more to do with him, he became obsessive, turning up at her home in Dulwich, south London, texting and phoning her.

On one occasion, he followed her from her work place to London Bridge station where he pushed her in the back and told her: "If you dare report me I will kill you."

At her wits' end, Ms Bernal turned to the police in March and the matter was handed over to the Southwark Hate Crime Unit. They told her to keep a diary and warned Mr Pech. He ignored the advice and continued to stalk her at the store. On 4 April he followed her to a nearby café and sat staring at her until she fled.

He was arrested on 6 April but again ignored bail conditions to keep away from his former girlfriend, following her to her home four days later.

Mr Pech was arrested again and appeared at Tower Bridge magistrates' court on 11 April charged under section 2 of the 1997 Harassment Act. He denied the crime but admitted it on his reappearance in court on 31 August. The case was adjourned for sentencing on 21 September and he was warned once again that he must not contact Ms Bernal or go to Knightsbridge. While neither victim nor gunman were officially named by the police yesterday, those who knew them talked of the troubled past. Some colleagues claimed Ms Bernal had taken out a restraining order. Others said Mr Pech had a history of domestic violence.

Yesterday, while the ground floor remained sealed off, the rest of the store was open for business. Staff arriving for work were offered counselling. Many clung to each other in tears.

Heather Chulu, 22, who worked on the nearby Espa skincare counter, described Ms Bernal as a popular, well-to-do girl. "She was well-spoken, a quiet girl, just very nice and very pleasant to talk to," said Ms Chulu, adding that it was common knowledge that a security guard she had dated briefly was stalking her.

One woman from a neighbouring Clarins counter said: "She was a very, very pretty girl and was very well-liked.

"When we heard what happened, it sounded like something out of a story book or a film, not something out of real life."

Julia Bowe, marketing director of Harvey Nichols, said: "This is now a matter of police investigation and we are unable to make any further comment other than to express our sadness at this tragic loss of life and to extend our sympathies to the families and friends of those involved."

A Scotland Yard spokes- woman said Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton, of the force's Specialist Crime Directorate, was investigating the shooting though no one else was being sought in connection with the incident.