| Michael Douglas and Glenn Close, who acted in Fatal Attraction in which Close’s character pursues Douglas’s after a one-night stand
London, May 3: The story of a bitter 37-year-old Indian woman, Anita Debnath, who has been stalking a man, Chay Ankers, 33, for nearly five years, emerged today at Leicester Crown Court where the judge, who had earlier taken a lenient view of her extraordinary behaviour, will now have to decide whether to send her to prison.
The night of July 20, 2001, is one that Ankers will not forget, but for all the wrong reasons.
He was operations manager for a logistics company in Coventry where Debnath was a temporary clerk. After an office party, they spent the night together at her Birmingham home.
That, as far as he was concerned, was it. He could not have been more mistaken for over the next four years, Debnath, whose further advances were rejected by Ankers, pursued him with great determination and, it has to be said, ingenuity.
Ankers, a victim of a case of fatal attraction (like Michael Douglas in the movie by that name where Glenn Close is the pursuer), reflected later: “Everyone’s had a one-night stand and realised afterwards they have made a mistake. But you don’t expect it to lead to this.”
When he took her to bed after the office party, he did not realise that Debnath was a computer science graduate with two Masters degrees.
The next day nothing was said at work, but that autumn Debnath telephoned, saying she had booked a hotel room. Ankers declined her invitation, triggering a remarkable chain of events.
Months of silence were broken by a Valentine’s Day email claiming Ankers had infected her with the sexually-transmitted disease chlamydia.
Ankers, who was six weeks into a new relationship with an artist, Melanie Hamlet, told his girlfriend that they needed medical check-ups.
Ankers recalled: “I responded to her email and said we had been checked out and cleared. About a week later she called my mobile and was going on about it and this time I was quite rude and told her basically to f*** off and leave me alone.”
Debnath used a web forum, Avengers Den, to get tips on how to wage her campaign against both Ankers and Hamlet. She went to their local pub, moved to the same town as the pair, sent letters to Hamlet claiming Ankers was having affairs, coated Hamlet’s car with paint stripper and later slashed its tyres.
She hired Far Eastern hackers, paying them '110 a time, to access Ankers’s email account. Next she sent gay porn to his house, and set up a website, www.chayisgay.com. She even sent messages to 100 ex-colleagues, implicating Ankers in stalking her.
The pair changed email addresses and passwords. But Debnath flew to Venezuela to track them on holiday, using itinerary details gleaned from the burgled emails.
Luckily, they had changed their plans.
“It is scary that she followed us all the way to Venezuela,” explained Ankers. “I couldn’t see how one night together nearly four years ago could make someone behave like that. It’s just bizarre.”
He went on: “All she has ever said is that I’ve given her a disease and it’s completely untrue. We had Sellotape over the letterbox to guard against flaming envelopes, bin bags over the windows and were carrying out all-night vigils.”
Nor did Debnath’s campaign end there. Now living in Priory Walk, Hinckley, Leicestershire ' not far from Ankers and Hamlet ' she faced three charges of dishonestly attempting to obtain three '100,000 loans in the names of Ankers, Hamlet and a relative of Hamlet on February 18, 2005. She sought to obtain a second loan for '100,000 in Hamlet’s name, and another, for '12,500, the next day.
Debnath was banned in January 2005 from ever making contact with Ankers or his fianc'e. She admitted five computer-related offences and perverting the course of justice.
Judge Collis told Debnath that she was suffering from an “acute mental state” but he did not want to jail her. “You’re set on a course of destruction, fuelled by your jealousy and need for revenge. The only way forward is to give you the guidance and rehabilitation you need.”
But Debnath, who has reoffended, is back in court, where James Varley, prosecuting, told the jury yesterday: “The prosecution case is not that this woman tried to get more than '400,000 ' that’s not her motivation. In 2001, after an office party, they had a one-night stand, and that’s where it comes from. For the last four years she’s had a fixation about this man.”
Tracey Morgan, director of support group Network For Surviving Stalking, commented: “This case is horrifying. People are becoming more and more aware of electronic stalking. The Internet, emails and texting are fantastic tools, but in the wrong hands they can be instruments of terror.”