Stalker sent undertakers to collect victim’s body when she was alive

James Leslie's trial took place at Glasgow Sheriff Court. Picture: John Devlin
James Leslie's trial took place at Glasgow Sheriff Court. Picture: John Devlin

A Stalker who relentlessly contacted a terrified woman and sent undertakers to her door to collect her dead body when she was still alive has narrowly avoided jail.

James Leslie, 43, refused Debra Reid’s pleas to stop contacting her after a short relationship and friendship didn’t work out.

He bombarded the 44-year-old with phone calls, cards and flowers - refusing to leave her alone despite her repeated requests.

Sick Leslie claimed he had terminal cancer in a desperate bid to maintain contact and told her he had weeks to live.

But after he posed as her teenage son to request undertakers pick up her remains and her children answered the door to the private ambulance - she reported Leslie to cops.

Infatuated Leslie accepted his guilt - but denied phoning the undertakers.

After a trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court, Leslie, from Strathblane was unanimously convicted of stalking Miss Reid between April 1 and May 12, 2016, and sending funeral directors to her door and causing distress to her family.

Today sheriff Martin Jones QC handed Leslie a three year community payback order with 300 hours of unpaid work, the requirement to go on a court appointed programme and a tag to stay in his house between 9pm and 6am, for six months.

He was also given a five year non-harassment order not to contact Debra.

The sheriff said: “This richly deserves custody, you have got a directly analogous offence and seem to have learned nothing from that.

“The only thing that saves you is being the carer for your young daughter.”

Leslie - who has a previous conviction for stalking from 2013 contacted Debra, from Bishopbriggs, on Facebook in February 2016.

The pair knew each other from school and met for coffees and walks and tried at relationship.

She said a “gut feeling” told her she shouldn’t continue with that and asked to just be friends.

Leslie called her a “tease” and told her “we should just get sex out the way and go back to being friends”.

Debra asked Leslie - who would phone her multiple times a day - to back off a bit and stop hounding her if she didn’t answer her phone.

Fiscal depute Mark Allan asked: “How would you describe the nature of that communication in general terms?”

She replied: “Relentless would be the word I would use.”

Debra said: “It was exhausting me. It clearly took up a lot of my time. If I didn’t answer the calls it would escalate to him sending me messages.

“So often I would end up phoning him back because otherwise it just didn’t stop.”

He would send messages if she didn’t pick up his calls saying he would come over to “make sure she was alright” and this scared her.

He would often guilt her and pretend she was controlling him by not answer his calls or call her a tease because she didn’t want a relationship with him.

Phone records showed Leslie called Debra around 150 times over a seven week period - she eventually saved his number as Jim Leslie **DON’T ANSWER.

The mum-of-two eventually changed her number in a bid to stop him contacting her but he sent dozens of flowers and cards to her house and contacted her on different Facebook accounts he created.

When Debra blocked his number Leslie left dozens of voice messages. Some were played to the jury that heard him say “You have no idea how much I love you Debra, you really don’t”.

Mr Allan asked how the voice messages made her feel.

She said: “At the time they were left there was a whole range of emotions. I was worried that he would never ever stop contacting me.

“I tried to block his number but voice messages still came through and I changed my phone number.

“I just felt completely stressed and worried, but also Jim told me he had terminal cancer so i felt like a pretty terrible person because I felt like no matter what he had done, I was turning my back on someone who had literally weeks to live.”

She said her house “looked like a florist” throughout April and May with all the flowers that were sent to her home and her work.

She even unblocked a Facebook account to show her children a picture of Leslie so that if they saw him they were to contact the police.

On May 12, a phone call was made to Jonathan Harvey funeral directors by a man claiming to be Debra’s son Michael asking them to collect his mother’s body from the house.

The audio recording of the phone call was played to the court and Debra said it was Leslie’s voice.

When two undertakers appeared at the door later that day when Debra was out meeting a friend, her children answered the door.

Debra told the court: “I was shocked and scared, not only for myself but for my children.

“I didn’t have any idea what was going to happen next, I felt like anything would happen.”

Michael, 20, said he was “shocked” when he saw the men and said he “didn’t really know how to react”.

Dad-of-one Leslie said he was “in a dark hole” at the time having suffered a bereavement in 2014.

He said he was “absolutely disgusted” at his behaviour - but denied being the person who made the phone call to funeral directors.

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