‘Looks another Warwick about to happen’: I was stalked at uni, but my stalker was allowed to stay
A leaked email shows the university were more concerned with their ‘precarious reputation’
Amy* was a second year at Newcastle University when she reported her ex boyfriend for stalking, revenge porn and abuse.
Amy went to Newcastle University staff for help in reporting her ex, as well as the police. After a series of meetings with the university which failed to satisfy Amy's need for safety, it was revealed that Jefferson Young would remain on campus as a student, graduating in 2019.
He was then also given a place on a postgraduate course at Newcastle. Amy had restricted her life for a year during the harassment on the premise that the next two would be better because he would be off campus but the uni allowed him to come back to complete further study.
Amy eventually complained to the university about how they handled it. Her dad was then mistakenly sent an email by the Vice Chancellor, Chris Day, saying her complaint looked like another "Warwick" situation about to happen, and that he was concerned about the "precarious reputation" of the university.
Amy worries that due to stalker re-offending rates being so high, she and other students could still be at risk.
Amy met Jefferson in her first year at Newcastle where they lived in the same halls. Things seemed so perfect to begin with, until the relationship started to become toxic. "He became aggressive towards me, punching, smashing and kicking things and calling me pathetic and saying he would rather sleep with other girls because I was too much effort", Amy claimed.
After giving him a few chances, Amy ended things.
Amy claims that the final straw for her was Jefferson pulling her across the road by her hair which he then said he had no recollection of the next morning.
After this, Amy was bombarded by messages from him in an attempt to get in touch with her. They remained in the same halls so she felt trapped. "He sent me even more messages saying how worthless I was and wouldn't leave me alone."
After ignoring these for a while, Amy decided to give things another go if Jefferson agreed to seek anger management help.
Amy came back to university before term to spend some time with Jefferson and quickly realised that nothing had changed and the abuse hadn't stopped. She quickly cut ties again. "He sent me abusive messages for blocking him" Amy alleged.
After this, the stalking and harassment increased and Amy began to feel unsafe in her own home and on campus. Trying to get in contact with her, Amy claims that he slept on her doorstep and stole her housemate's bike, all in an attempt to speak to her again.
"He started posting statuses that only I could see. I removed the batteries from my doorbell and blocked him on every social media platform, he created a new Facebook account to try and contact me that way."
The messages he sent included things like: "You’re the main fucking reason I feel so shit about myself I actually hate myself for ever caring about you", "I don’t want to never speak to you again" and "I just need you as a friend".
Things took a turn for the worse when Jefferson sent a revenge porn video to Amy’s new boyfriend along with a message saying: "Every time you two fuck just remember I was a better shag than you, don't believe me? Look in her eyes and ask me."
Months later, Amy and Jefferson crossed paths again at a party where she claims that he shouted abuse and her and her friends. They spend a short amount of time together again before she realised it was a bad idea. Amy told The Newcastle Tab: "I knew it was stupid to get sucked back in and broke things off again".
After this, the harassment recommenced and Jefferson turned up at Amy’s house. "He said he knew I was in because he had seen my car in the back yard". The emails and voicemails continued, up to ten every day.
Amy took multiple opportunities to advise Jefferson to seek professional help, sending him helpline numbers and contacts.
After Jefferson threatened to turn up at Amy’s summer job, she told him she would ring the police if he was to do so. He went to the pub she was working at and gave her manager a hair bobble saying it belonged to Amy.
This was the incident which led to Amy ringing the police and reporting Jefferson’s actions.
Amy rang 101 and expresses her concerns during this time.
In late July 2018, Amy spoke to the police, making it clear she wanted him to leave her alone. This is when the police made contact with him. On the back of police contact, she received another email from him stating he will not be contacting her anymore and that he would see her when they returned back in Newcastle in September because he understood she needed space.
After receiving more emails after police advised him to stop contacting her, Amy rang the police again and explained that the university had advised her to get an injunction before university started.
Police gave her numbers to contact the police with helpline numbers.
In September of 2018, she was advised to come into the police station to download messages and emails as evidence.
Eventually in 2018 he was given an official restraining order against Amy. In court, Jefferson's barrister argued that he was receiving mixed messages from his on-off girlfriend and said her client was an "immature and very vulnerable young man" who had learned the error of his ways.
Reporting him to the university
In September 2018, Amy met with her personal tutor to discuss her situation. She told The Newcastle Tab: "I emailed the police and was advised by uni to get an injunction before uni began and things got busy".
Amy applied for a fast track appointment with the mental health team, but this was denied.
Jefferson was then referred to a disciplinary committee at the end of November 2018. Amy was given the option to attend the hearing to provide testimony either in person or via Skype, or to submit a statement.
Prior to the hearing, Amy received emails discussing the upcoming hearing which read: "I have spoken with the Chair of the Student Disciplinary Panel and she is happy for you to attend as a witness at the Hearing. You will not be there for the whole of the Hearing.
"The Panel will ask you some questions about what happened to you. This is so that the Panel can understand what the impact of what Mr Young has done has had on you. Mr Young will be present at that time but he will not be permitted to ask you questions directly."
Amy was able to be present in the hearing when she gave her personal statement however she was not allowed to be present for the rest of the hearing or to know the outcome.
She later received an email from the university which read: "We are unable to disclose the actual sanction imposed upon Mr Young, although I can confirm he will remain a student at Newcastle."
She was not made aware of any of the sanctions he had been given from the university, only that he would remain as a student.
There was a "no contact order" put in place which was to remain for the duration of their time at Newcastle. This was made clear to both parties that it was a two way agreement and neither of them could make contact with each other.
Amy expressed her concern with this and how she felt she was being unfairly treated and asked for information on appealing the process but was told she could only complain, she could not appeal, as the decision relates to him personally and not her.
The university's response
Amy had no idea if her stalker was still on campus or not, or what punishments he had been given. Upon first request, Amy was not provided with information regarding the re-enrolment of Jefferson on his Postgraduate course. She had to find this out for herself after a friend said they had seen him in Newcastle.
This information was confirmed by university staff at a later date upon multiple requests by Amy.
Amy complained to the university as she felt they had mishandled her case and she was not comfortable on campus. She told The Newcastle Tab: "I worry that due to stalker re-offending rates being so high, that I, along with other students on campus, are not safe here." Over half of convicted stalkers go on to reoffend (via Suzy Lamplugh Trust).
Her father was CC'd into the email to the Vice Chancellor in which she announced she would be complaining.
The Vice Chancellor accidentally responded to Amy's father: "Hi All. Could I have some urgent background here? On the face of it this looks another “Warwick” about to happen on our own campus with the associated risk for the student and our precarious reputation. Chris."
Amy was concerned and upset by the email and told The Newcastle Tab: "I was shocked. The Vice Chancellor made me feel like I was just another mistake and they weren't handling it with the seriousness it actually deserved to be handled. It makes me wonder what is actually being said behind closed doors."
The Newcastle Tab approached Newcastle University for a comment. A spokesperson told us: "We work hard to ensure that every student feels safe at Newcastle.
"By law we cannot comment on individual cases or disclose any measures the University has taken in regards to them.
"We take every allegation of sexual misconduct very seriously. Each case is assessed individually and appropriate action is taken as soon as possible.
"Any student who is affected by sexual misconduct has access to confidential support and guidance from our experienced support staff.
"If the incident relates to another member of the University community, it will be investigated in line with our Student Disciplinary Procedure.
"Our policies and procedures follow national guidance set out by Universities UK as part of its Changing the Culture initiative, which made recommendations for universities to follow when dealing with sexual violence and harassment.
"The Vice-Chancellor is not involved in student disciplinary hearings."
*Amy's name has been changed to protect her identity.
Featured image by Warren Wong on Unsplash