A woman who came face to face with her stalker has launched a plea for victims to be notified when convicted stalkers are released from jail.
Chloe Hopkins, 28, was out shopping in Tesco when she bumped into her tormentor who had harassed and stalked her since she was 18.
The former beauty queen from Prestatyn, Wales, was unaware her stalker, Anthony James Mantova from Meliden had been released.
Mantova, who is now in his 40s, was jailed for obsessing over the singer-songwriter, reports DailyPostOnline.
He had her name tattooed on his chest and chillingly even sported a T-shirt with her face emblazoned across it, as well as bombarding her with sexual messages.
Disabled Mantova, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, suggested the former Miss Prestatyn's tiara and sash "would look good" on his bedroom floor.
Chloe spiralled into depression and even took an overdose in a desperate bid to escape her tormentor.
She has rebuilt her life since Mantova, whom she never refers to by name, was jailed for the final time in 2016. Yet the moment eight years ago, when she unexpectedly came face to face with him, stays with her.
Chloe was unaware of his release and slowly building back her confidence when she stopped in her tracks, paralysed with fear.
She said: "The second time he came out of prison I went into my local Tesco's, minding my own business. I walked around a corner into the milk aisle and boom, I saw him there – it was a massive shock.
"You feel physically sick, you start crying, you start shaking, you can't move, you're frozen. It's frightening because you've not been told they've come out. It's difficult to explain but you need to be told so you can be prepared for it."
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She said all victims needs should be paramount in the criminal process, adding: "We need that support of being told when they are coming out and where they're going to be. So we can mentally prepare ourselves in case we bump into them – it's a horrible fright."
Now an ambassador for the National Stalking Helpline and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, Chloe spoke up to encourage women who might be in the same situation she endured get help.
Her comments also came after North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones revealed reports of harassment and stalking had risen 30% during lockdown.
Mr Jones, addressing North Wales Police and Crime Panel this week, said part of the rise in complaints to the force could be explained by new reporting procedures – but not all of it.
He said new Stalking Protection Orders (SPOs) did give victims more say in their stalkers' licence conditions and some would get more information on release – but not all.
Jones added: "The new measures allow courts in England and Wales to move quicker to ban stalkers from contacting victims or visiting their home, place of work or study so victims are granted more time to recover from their ordeal.
"When the perpetrator is jailed for 12 months or more for a violent or sexual offence, including stalking then they are offered statutory victim services through Probation Service. This includes giving the victim a say on licence conditions and being informed of the details of the release of the perpetrator from prison.
"I do agree with Chloe safeguards for victims need to be strengthened further. The law in relation to stalking and harassment should be looked at again because there is a gap when perpetrators are jailed for less than 12 months."
Chloe was invited to speak to police officers about the victim's perspective a couple of years ago and made them aware of how scary the experience was.
She revealed the process of going through court was "daunting", leaving her feeling almost like she was under suspicion, especially as Mantova made counter-claims against her character.
Chloe Hopkins is an ambassador for the National Stalking Helpline and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.
If you are experiencing stalking or harassment call North Wales Police on 101 or visit the live chat here
Contact the National Stalking Helpline at the Suzy Lamplugh Trust at www.suzylamplugh.org/contact or call 0808 802 0300
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