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Burnley stalker may face jail for 17-year reign of terror
A STALKER who harassed a woman and her two daughters over almost two decades leaving them living in fear could be facing jail.
Graeme Hannigan, 43, spied on Anne Brierley and Lisa Wilkinson, posted information about their movements on Facebook and persistently monitored their internet use over almost two months earlier this year, a court heard.
He also took a photograph from one of his victim's Facebook accounts and put it on his own.
Burnley magistrates heard how Hannigan's 17-year campaign against the family first started in 1996, when he had become obsessed with Mrs Brierley's other daughter Carrie-Anne, then 17, who worked at a cinema in Brierfield.
He bombarded her with letters, was eventually traced and was convicted of making threats to kill at Burnley Crown Court.
Magistrates were told yesterday that nothing then happened for several years and Carrie-Anne had emigrated to Australia and married.
Hannigan then acquired a 'vast amount of details' about Carrie-Anne Birbeck and her new life and made entries on her Facebook page.
The defendant even contacted her place of work causing trouble for her by claiming she was an illegal immigrant. He was cautioned for harassment after the police were informed. Mrs Brierley was extremely distressed again by Hannigan's actions.
Hannigan is now awaiting sentence, after admitting stalking Mrs Brierley and Lisa Wilkinson at Burnley, on or between April 21 and June 15, this year. The defendant, of Brownhill Avenue, Burnley, was conditionally bailed until October 29, for psychiatric reports and was banned from contacting his victims and from accessing social media sites.
Alex Mann, prosecuting, said Hannigan's behaviour towards Carrie-Anne in the 1990s had had a serious detrimental effect upon the family's life. Mrs Brierley told police: "I was terrified somebody was going to kill my daughter and she was frightened to death herself."
The prosecutor said during the recent offence, Hannigan had not made threats and the material on the social networking site was not offensive, but it involved planning.
Lisa Wilkinson told her mother she had been friend requested on Facebook by Hannigan, searched the profile and found four distressing wall posts, obviously referring to Mrs Brierley and her family.
On May 12, the defendant claimed in an entry he had seen Carrie-Anne standing outside Farmfoods and posted: "I was right. She's back home. There is nothing for her down under."
Carrie-Anne Birbeck was not back at the time.
Mrs Mann said Mrs Brierley told police Hannigan appeared to be trying to monitor her family's movements and intrude on their privacy.
She was frightened of him and what he might do. The victim said: "He's obviously a disturbed individual. He has been harassing us for 17 years and I am struggling to sleep at night. I am really terrified where this may end up going." The prosecutor added Mrs Brierley had not suffered any physical harm, but Hannigan's conduct had had an affect on her mental health. The prosecutor said: "She is now concerned he is watching her."
Daniel Frazer, for Hannigan, said it was quite understandable why somebody would be upset by his actions.
He was not following the family around. Each incident was a chance meeting and he then publicised that.
Mr Frazer said the defendant had recently been found to have Aarskog-Scott syndrome.
The solicitor said: "He has difficulties with cognitive thinking and can't necessarily see the outcome of his behaviour."
The bench chairman said it must have been a very harrowing time for Anne Brierley and her family and it had gone on so long for the victims.