London: An Indian man who stalked a woman over a period of 18 months after she attended to him just once in a shop in London has been jailed for 29 months.
Rohit Sharma was jailed at Isleworth Crown Court in London on Wednesday after pleading guilty to stalking, harassment and failing to appear in court. The 28-year-old Indian national will be deported back to India at the end of his sentence.
"Stalking and harassment has a devastating impact on the lives of those targeted. There is intrusion into the victim's life, and they are left to feel vulnerable, distressed and threatened," said detective Constable Nicola Kerry from the Metropolitan Police West Area Command Unit, who led the investigation.
"Sharma was incessant in his pursuit of his victim. He would phone her up to 40 times a day and use around 15 different numbers to contact her, making it near impossible to block his calls, and would also get friends and relatives to contact her on his behalf," she said.
The man began stalking his victim, aged in her 20s, after she served him in a shop in Wembley, north-west London, in November 2017. After that brief interaction, Sharma returned later that same day with his father and asked her to marry him.
Four days later, the victim changed jobs, but Sharma found out where she worked and managed to obtain her phone number.
His behaviour escalated and he bombarded the victim with multiple messages via phone, text and social media, the Met Police said.
The victim reported Sharma to police and in February 2018 he was issued with a harassment warning.
However, the court was told that this did not deter him and his campaign of stalking and harassment continued. This consisted of the victim receiving up to 40 calls a day and Sharma continually watching her at her place of work.
In July 2018, Sharma was charged with harassment but after being bailed from court he continued to pursue his victim. He failed to attend a court hearing in November 2018 and was circulated as wanted by police.
"Sharma's stalking continued persistently to such a point that the victim quit her job and moved away from the area in an attempt to get away from him. However, this only seemed to fuel his campaign and he systematically began contacting people who knew the victim, trying to find out where she had gone," the Met Police said.
In April 2019, Sharma was arrested by police after intelligence linked him to an address in Wembley. He was subsequently charged and, due to the weight of evidence against him, was left with little option but to plead guilty at court.
In a statement, the unnamed victim said: "This whole experience has completely shattered my nerves, I have gone from being a confident young woman to constantly feeling scared and on edge. I have no desire to socialise or meet new people, which has really taken its toll and ruined the university experience I had always envisioned.
"I cannot understand why this male became so obsessed with me. It is so unfair and completely undeserved. I just want him to realise what he has done and to know that he cannot do this to me or anyone else. I now want to move on knowing that he is locked away and cannot harm or hurt anyone else like he has done to me. The victim has been left devastated by Sharma's actions and I can only hope that his imprisonment offers some form of respite for her. She has shown immense bravery in reporting him to police and supporting this court case," added detective constable Kerry.
Sharma was handed down a sentence of 22-month imprisonment for stalking, six months for harassment, and one month for failing to appear at court.