Victim confronts 'stalker' in witness box

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A restaurant manageress yesterday confronted the man she claims threatened to kill her during a four-year stalking campaign.

Cross examined by the defendant, Dennis Chambers, a delivery van driver who is representing himself, Margaret Bent said he had ruined her life and seemed to have taken over her mind.

Listing sleepless nights, weight loss, a quick temper and a non-existent social life as just part of the alleged stalker's legacy to her, Ms Bent, 30, insisted she was scared of what might happen next.

Allowed to sit on a row of seats in the well of the court normally reserved for lawyers, Chambers, flanked by two dock security officers, had to be repeatedly reminded by the judge that he was there to ask questions, and not to give evidence.

Miss Bent, sitting just yards from the alleged stalker, insisted he had caused her "serious psychological injury".

The woman, who told Inner London Crown Court how Chambers pestered her and threatened her life, said that he had caused her "serious psychological injury". She had taken up smoking again, and felt unable to go out alone.

Miss Bent has claimed that after Chambers first approached her in the street in 1992 and tried to pick her up, he repeatedly followed her home. He plagued her with phone calls, sometimes ringing ten times a day at the restaurant in Brixton, London, where she worked. But then he became more aggressive and a series of frightening incidents followed, she claimed.

One day he came into the restaurant and, as she sought refuge behind her locked office door, armed himself with a 10-inch kitchen knife and sliced up a potato. She told the court that as he did so, he was muttering he "could or should" kill her.

Miss Bent said Chambers even registered his car in her name. As a result she received parking tickets, court summonses and letters from bailiffs threatening to seize property if she did not pay fines.

Chambers, of no fixed address, denies one charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent between December 1994 and April 1996, as well as an alternative count of inflicting grievous bodily harm.

He has also pleaded not guilty to a further allegation of affray in March this year.

The trial resumes today.