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Mum forced to flee town

PUBLISHED: 13:32 04 July 2008 | UPDATED: 20:47 05 July 2010

A MOTHER of two, who feared for her own safety, has been forced to flee Lowestoft, leaving her job, friends and family behind after suffering a "nightmare" past year.

A MOTHER of two, who feared for her own safety, has been forced to flee Lowestoft, leaving her job, friends and family behind after suffering a “nightmare” past year.

Speaking to The Journal this week Paula Warnes admitted how her life “had been ruined” by former partner Mark McCormic, who could not accept their relationship was over.

The 40-year-old, of no fixed address, had harassed and threatened to kill Ms Warnes a number of times - but he was behind bars this week after he admitted arson, being reckless as to whether life would be endangered, and was jailed for four years.

However, for Ms Warnes, the turmoil of the past year and the worry that McCormic will come looking for her upon his release remains.

“I was pleased with the outcome, it was a good sentence, but it's a bit late for me as I've had to move away because I didn't want to risk staying in Lowestoft,” Ms Warnes said.

“Now there's a sense of relief that he will be in prison for a while, but sad it's had to come to the point of walking away after living in the town for 14 years.”

This week it emerged that McCormic had even written a letter to her around seven weeks ago from prison, where he had been remanded in custody, saying “he wasn't going to stop until they were together.” This has subsequently been passed to police.

The pair had been in a relationship for four months last year, when Ms Warnes ended it. But problems began, as Ms Warnes was victimised and subjected to a torrent of abuse and threats from McCormic - who tried to get her back.

“He made my life intolerable and turned me into a nervous wreck,” she told The Journal. “My work was targeted as windows were smashed. He would wait for me in town and then shout abuse, he told people he was going to kill me and used to walk round with a knife. I even gave him £400 to get help, but he spent that on drink and couldn't accept I did not want to be with him.”

On Monday Ipswich Crown Court heard how five people had been in Ms Warnes's first-floor flat in Kirkley Cliff Road last year, when McCormic started a fire under her bedroom window.

Andrew Shaw, prosecuting, said that on December 18 McCormic was arrested for throwing bricks through windows at Ms Warnes's home and was released on bail. The following day he went drinking in Lowestoft and bumped into Ms Warnes and her new partner.

There had been a confrontation and McCormic was later heard making threats to harm Ms Warnes. Around midnight, McCormic started the fire, which caused damage to a plastic drain cover.

Rebecca Wastall, for McCormic, said her client had been unable to accept his relationship with Ms Warnes was over and had been upset when she had a new partner.

After previously pleading guilty at a previous hearing, McCormic was sentenced to four years in jail.

Ms Warnes said she was looking forward to starting a new chapter in her life.

“I have felt a lot safer now,” she said. “He made me so scared and frightened but my message to others who may be in this situation is never think you won't get support. I have had so much support from the police, Victim Support and friends.”

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