Stalker left rotting meat, a dagger and Russian royal family pictures outside terrified Leeds mum's home during 'campaign' of fear
A terrified mum helped bring her stalker to justice after he left rotting meat, a dagger and a series of bizarre items outside her home as she was subjected to a 'campaign' of fear.
Christopher Dearden was arrested after the woman set up a CCTV system at her home in Leeds as she was worried for the safety of her family.
The 45-year-old was caught on camera targeting the property where she lived with her children.
In a separate incident, Dearden punched a woman unconscious in an unprovoked attack at a community cafe.
Leeds Crown Court heard the defendant was having delusional thoughts as a result of a mental health disorder at the time of the offending.
Dearden was given a suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to two counts of stalking and one of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Michael Greenhalgh, prosecuting, said the stalking victim and her children had lived at the property in Leeds for a number of years without any problems.
On October 3, 2019, she returned home with the youngsters to find a rotting piece of meat covered in maggots in her garden.
A week later she discovered a rucksack in the middle of the garden which contained a t-shirt and another piece of red meat.
Days later she returned home to find a black package in her garden but kicked it into the road.
In early November she noticed a blue carrier bag in the garden.
It contained a hospital medical bag containing dirty tissues and jogging bottoms.
Later the same day she looked outside to see cigarette packets strewn across the garden.
Mr Greenhalgh said the woman did not report any of the incidents to the police as she did not think they would be taken seriously.
She instead took the decision to have a CCTV camera installed at her home.
The offending continued during January 2020 when she found items including a pizza cutter, cans and bottles of beer outside her property.
One morning she found a bin bag hanging from the door handle which contained tins from charity shops and empty chocolate coin wrappers.
Inside one of the tins was a cooked lamb chop.
The victim finally called the police when she returned home from work to find a dagger had been placed under the letter box.
A day later she found a cardboard box stuck in the letter box which contained a dirty flannel and smelt of chemicals.
The prosecutor said by this time the woman began to feel frightened for her safety.
Towards the end of January she heard loud bangs outside her home.
She checked the CCTV footage and saw a man throwing lollipop sticks into her garden.
On January 27 Dearden was caught on camera flicking the bin lids outside the house before walking off.
On February 13 he left prints of the Romanovs - the former Russian royal family - outside her home.
On Valentine's Day he left a box of chocolates outside.
Footage revealed Dearden had been responsible for making the mess.
Mr Greenhalgh said the woman recognised Dearden from seeing him in her local area picking up cigarette butts, looking into bins and talking to himself.
Dearden was arrested and mainly refused to comment during an interview, but stated that he had left the chocolate coin wrappers outside the house "to attract sharks."
In a separate incident in January last year, Dearden assaulted a member of staff at a community cafe Hyde Park.
The victim was cleaning tables when Dearden walked in and she told him it was closed.
Dearden punched her in the face without warning, knocking her unconscious.
She suffered a broken nose and two black eyes in the attack and was later diagnosed with PTSD as a result of the ordeal
Oliver Connor, mitigating, said Dearden was in a poor state of mental health at the time and has been diagnosed as suffering from schizoaffective disorder.
The barrister said his client had believed he was a member of the Romanov family at the time of the offending.
Read more: Hyde Park burglar targeted homes in the middle of the night and stole Mercedes worth £20,000He added: "He believed the complainant was part of a rival royal family who were stalking him."
The court heard Dearden had been detained under the Mental Health Act following his arrest.
Mr Connor said: "Thanks to medical professionals, he now shows significant signs of improvement."
"He recognises his previous thoughts as delusional. He has insight into his condition."
The barrister said Dearden has now moved to the Seacroft area of Leeds and is continuing to receive support.
The court heard the assault victim had expressed a "generous and magnanimous" view that she did not want Dearden to go to prison.
Dearden was given a 15-month sentence, suspended for 18 months.
He was also ordered to complete 40 rehabilitation activity requirement days.
Recorder Andrew Latimer said: "There is no doubt that those offences affected the complainants significantly.
"Equally, there is no doubt, having seen the medical reports which have been prepared, that you are a man with mental health problems and they are improving, although they were very serious at the time."