SHE was instrumental in snaring a man branded Britain’s most notorious stalker.
Now Detective Chief Inspector Linda Dawson has received an MBE for her pioneering work which led a change in the law on stalking offences.
Today stalking survivor Tracey Morgan, 45, whose case sparked Det Chief Insp Dawson’s campaign with now-retired Det Sgt Ian Smith, hailed her life-changing work: ‘It’s wonderful news,’ she said. ‘We have been on this journey together.
‘In January it will have been 21 years since she knocked on my door to help me. I just couldn’t be more pleased that somebody so deserving has got this. Linda and Ian literally put their jobs on the line for my case.’
Det Chief Insp Dawson joined Kent police in 1987 and moved to Hampshire in 1991 where she took on Tracey’s case.
Tracey endured years of terror at the hands of stalker Anthony Burstow – who later changed his name to Anthony Hurdle.
Thanks to Det Chief Insp Dawson and her colleague’s campaign and Tracey’s brave decision to speak publicly about her ordeal, former Royal Navy petty officer Burstow became the first man jailed for grievous bodily harm with psychological injury.
Burstow subjected Tracey to torment including breaking into her home, stealing her underwear, recording her movements and even sending her a crossword with answers related to the movements of her and her family and other highly personal information about her.
But the officers were struggling with their bid for change. Det Chief Insp Dawson said: ‘We were floundering, trying to find somebody that would listen. Then we went to The News. We spoke to the correspondent there, talked about our case and our opinion that the laws needed to be changed. There was a big, double page spread on it. From that there was really good feedback, with lots of letters coming in from people saying they themselves has behaviour towards then that had caused them upset over the years and distress.
‘They then followed it up the next day with some of the responses, then another article, then they started a ‘Stop The Stalker’ campaign.’
The officers used responses to The News to help build their case. The law was eventually changed.
Burstow was jailed for life in 2001 for trying to murder a new girlfriend who tried to end their affair.
Det Chief Insp Dawson said of her MBE: ‘Tracey is the main person who deserves this – she’s gone through it. She’s the victim that’s actually stood up. I think without her bravery, Ian and I would have never taken it forward as we did. The other person is Ian Smith whose who was fabulous when he was a serving police officer and is still a support now.’
Chief constable Andy Marsh said: ‘[Linda] has been the driving force behind legislative changes offering protection to victims. This MBE is a just reward for her remarkable work and professional commitment.’