A 77-year-old lovelorn man who showered an elderly widow with gifts, marriage proposals and a card wishing her a ‘horrible birthday’ has walked free from court.
Welshman Douglas Dabb made 330-mile round trips to pester Wendy Winstanley, also 77, in her hometown.
Dastardly Dabb, who met Wendy on a Saga-style vacation, would show up unannounced at her local church whenever she volunteered at events.
Ms Winstanley turned down Dabb’s promoters, but the retired Hitachi worker sent her abusive messages and cards wishing her a ‘horrible birthday’.
He followed this up with a letter wishing him ill health and hoping he would be the victim of a serious traffic accident.
During her ordeal, Mrs Winstanley from Sandbach, Cheshire, had to ask her fellow parishioners to act as lookouts for her in case she turned up at church services or fairs.
She was so afraid of her unwanted admirer that she was said to be “white as a sheet” and was sobbing to her local vicar when Dabb managed to sneak inside the building while she was in the banking area.
At Warrington Magistrates Court, Dabb, who lives in the former coal mining town of Cwmaman near Aberdare, South Wales, admitted harassing Ms Winstanley and was fined £288.
Welshman Douglas Dabb, 77, met widow Wendy Winstanley on a Saga-style cruise holiday
Dobbs met Wendy Winstanley (pictured), 77, during a vacation five years ago and they continued to meet for several more. They never had a relationship and were just friends, and Ms Winstanley “made it clear that she was not interested in anything else”, the court heard.
Laura Simpson, prosecutor, said: “The defendant and the victim met on a cruise ship approximately five years ago, thus they struck up a friendship.” She visited her once for a sightseeing tour before returning to her home in South Wales.
‘There were a number of incidents that have caused the victim distress. In June 2021, the victim began a relationship with another man.
The defendant asked if he could sleep over and she said that she did not feel it was appropriate with the new relationship.
The defendant’s behavior then changed towards the victim, sending her a birthday card with nasty comments, wishing her ill health and wishing her a horrible birthday. She left flowers and a card taped to a door post.
‘In October, he warned his church group about the defendant. She was worried about what he might do next. Then, in November, she was managing a booth at her church fair when she saw the defendant. This is in Sandbach, the defendant lives in South Wales.
‘She was distraught and collapsed in front of the vicar. She was frightened by the defendant’s behavior. Later that day, he personally delivered a package to her home and then also sent another letter about the package.
Douglas Dabb is seen outside Warrington Magistrates Court where he escaped a jail sentence.
Dabb with his hat in a previous court case about his campaign to harass Wendy Winstanley
“At Christmas he sent her a card and in February another envelope with tea bags. She believes this is related to a conversation she had with the defendant on the cruise where she said that he did not like tea.
‘In March, she was in church when she saw the accused. She was asked to leave her, but she only did when the police were called.
“It distressed her and she cried. ‘In the interview, the accused fully admitted the harassment.’
Dabb had no prior convictions. Asking for a restraining order, Mrs Simpson said there was “high culpability” because the crime took place over an “extended period of time” and harm was caused to the victim due to the anguish she suffered.
In Dabb’s mitigation, defense attorney Taryn Reay said: “He was a man of good character earlier and unfortunately he loses it in court today.” He is 77 years old and has never been in trouble with the court before. He has led a trouble-free life and I am as sure as I can be that he will never bother the courts again.
Miss Reay added: ‘She met the complainant on a group holiday and they were friends. There were at least 12 holidays, some alone and others in a group. The friendship was very good. Not too good, they were just good friends.
He then asked to stay on his couch. She had previously offered, but he felt that if she was in a relationship, he would back down. ‘He asked several times ‘Are you in a relationship?’ but she didn’t tell him that she was in a relationship. This is not an excuse because regardless of whether she had told him or not, her behavior was inexcusable.
“But it just explains why a 77-year-old man who had never been in trouble before behaved this way. What he wanted was for her to say ‘I’m in a relationship’ and whether he should be in contact or not. He understands that there can be no further contact and, to his credit, there has been no contact since March 20. This was a good friendship gone incredibly wrong on behalf of Mr. Dabb.
Dabb had worked between 1964 and 2000 for Hitachi and, after retiring, took care of his mother for seven years. “After he passed away, since he was retired, he started traveling, and this is where the holidays started,” said Ms. Reay, “he likes to go on sleeper trains to travel to different parts of the country.”
Dabb was also ordered to complete 25 days of rehabilitative activity with the probation service as part of an 18-month community order and ordered to pay the costs and victim surcharge of £215.
‘You can appreciate that this kind of behavior, getting to 77 and causing this person distress, is not acceptable, right?’ Chairman Alf Bean said: ‘It’s really a shame he had his copy book wiped and he has a criminal record.’
No compensation order was issued and no restraining order was imposed.