A Hale businesswoman has told how she feared she would be raped during a stalking campaign by an obsessed admirer who believed he was the mythical Greek hero Odysseus.
Interior designer Penelope Hulme, 53, was bombarded with over 700 creepy and explicit texts from painter and decorator Ian Stewart, who used her christian name to proclaim himself as her self-styled “saviour”.
The infatuated 48-year old, who had previously worked for his victim’s millionaire ex-husband, equated Mrs Hulme to Penelope the loyal wife of the legendary King of Ithica whose exploits were detailed in the epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey by the Greek author Homer.
And although Mrs Hulme was dating another man, Stewart, from Sale, sent her a series of messages over a three-year period demanding she leave him so they could start an affair together.
One text read: “I am your saviour and I can take you to another world. Everything about you is beautiful. I love you.”
Others said: “I just sent our pics to an American medium. She says something going, you feel disconnected. It’s me Odysseus, I will call soon. I am Odysseus.”
Mrs Hulme, who lives in Hale, urged Stewart to stop contacting her but he persisted with his texts and was reported to the police.
In a statement law graduate Mrs Hulme, a mother of two who specialises in up market interior home design for wealthy clients, said: “I feel this man is a threat and I am worried about what he might do next.
“He seems deranged and delusional and says he wants to take me to another world.
“I feel disgusted, insulted and humiliated by these messages. I feel the messages undermine my wellbeing and my dignity.
“Dealing with this man is a waste of my time and I am focusing on writing this and not doing my work. I could lose my job. I am very worried that I could be the next rape victim.”
Manchester magistrates court heard Mrs Hulme had known Stewart since 2007 after he did some decorating work for her then husband Martin, 60, who was chairman of a large property development company.
Prosecuting, Miss Andrea Griffiths said: “It was a professional relationship. She works as an interior designer and work was passed between her and the defendant. But she then divorced her husband and the pair lost contact.
“Later in 2012, the complainant bumped into the defendant in the street and she was in a bad way due to her divorce. He offered to help her fix some issues in her home telling her he didn’t want to be paid.
“She re-paid him by referring him to some of her clients and giving him business.
“But from then he started contacting her in quite a strange way. During that time period from 2013 she found him quite difficult and intrusive and she asked him to stop contacting her.
“However, he continued to contact her referring to himself as the Greek god, Odysseus who saved and married Penelope. Penelope’s partner at the time contacted him and told him not to speak to her again.
“But he then started to contact her again via text message. She felt shocked that he had continued to contact her and blocked him.
“Over the next few days she received messages from another number. The messages were intense and frequent.
“She said she found the messages so sickening that she decided to phone the police.
“She said his contact was unhealthy, unnatural and very much unwanted. There were over 700 messages sent to her phone – none of which she replied to. On the 10th of October last year, the defendant sent a number of messages. Some are sexual and some are religious.
“He talks particularly about being her saviour and taking her to another world.”
The court also heard details of sexually explicit messages that Stewart had sent Miss Hulme.
The prosecutor added: “Stalking can take many forms – in this case the contact is via text messaging. What affect that had on her was to alter her lifestyle.”
Stewart admitted stalking Mrs Hulme between October and November last year under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Defending himself, he said: “She agreed to meet me for a coffee. I do not know what all that was about.
“I used to work for her and she has gone on like I have stalked her but I was just messaging her.
“I am so in disagreement with what she says, I have never hurt anyone in my life.”
Stewart was ordered to complete a 12-month community order and fined £300 with further orders to pay a £85 victim surcharge and £150 in costs. He was banned from contacting Mrs Hulme indefinitely under the terms of a restraining order.
Reporting: Cavendish Press