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Bus driver stalked by infatuated passenger for SIX years now lives in fear and wears stab-proof vest every day; EXCLUSIVE: Imre Marton is so scared he lives like a recluse and covers the windows of his home with opaque film and thick black curtains so no one can see in.

Byline: Rosa McMahon

A bus driver stalked by an A-infatuated passenger for six years has told of how he now wears a stab-proof vest every day in fear that she will make good on her threats to kill him.

Imre Marton, 33, is so scared he lives like a recluse. He covers the windows of his home with film and thick black A-curtains so no one can see in.

And his ordeal goes on despite his tormentor Charlie Howells being behind bars for a second time because she has A-suggested she has accomplices ready to help her and his "days are numbered".

Imre said: "I never feel safe. I know she won't stop and this is never going to end. I am living in fear, always looking over my shoulder.

"I am sure that one day she will kill me. It's the end goal for her. Her mission is for us to die together,"

Imre's nightmare began in 2012 when Howells, 24, first boarded his No32 bus in Oxfordshire.

She began memorising his schedules. Her bizarre A-behaviour A-included standing just inches behind him so she could sniff him.

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After she declared her love for Imre and he rejected her, Howells began A-bombarding him with thousands of A-messages -- A-sometimes up to 500 a day.

They included proposals, suggesting they tie the knot on a bus, and claims she had found his home address.

Imre reported her and after four years of A-torment she got two years in May 2016.

He spoke to the Sunday People after the case and in November 2017 took part in BBC documentary My Stalker and Me to help raise awareness of the issue.

But his appearance re-ignited Howells's campaign and she messaged him on Facebook to say: "You are the biggest fool ever, going on TV saying you wear a stab vest. Well now Charlie knows where not to stab you... You thought your life was in danger then, there are many people out to get you now. I'd watch my back if I was you, you have been warned!!!!"

Earlier this month Howells was jailed again for three years at Oxford crown court and given a ten-year restraining order.

Imre, who left the city in January but is too scared to say where he is, said: "I take no comfort in her getting three years.

"It just gives her more time to plan what she is going to do next -- and that terrifies me."

Recalling how the campaign started, he said: "I'd feel her breath on me. She was like a ninja, she would A-appear from nowhere. She was always there."

After his rejection, Howells began turning up in shops and cafes Imre was visiting. On the bus she played One Direction songs and handed him notes.

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Police gave Howells a A-warning but she found Imre on Facebook. He was forced to delete his account and apply for a transfer out of the city centre.

Howells found him again and in August 2014 he won a two-year A-restraining order -- A-banning her from the city, his route and any contact. She ignored it.

Imre said: "To avoid her, I cut my bus shifts and began working as a bouncer but she found me, getting my number from a driver who didn't know how dangerous she was. She called every minute of the day."

Imre called 101 or 999 every time but her stalking campaign escalated. In 2015 Howells first said she was going to kill him -- running a finger across her throat as she made the threat.

Terrifingly, in April that year, Imre was with a colleague when Howells threw water in his face which he feared was acid.

He said: "I felt lucky it was only water but it made me realise how easy it was for her to harm me."

In August, with Howells screaming "like an animal" at him, he called police again. She was remanded in custody and Imre secured a two-year restraining order. Howells was then twice convicted of breaching her restraining order and jailed in June 2015 for eight weeks.

After persistently ignoring the order, she got two years in May 2016. The order was extended to five years.

But even with Howells behind bars, Imre was not safe. The first message he got was from a "friend" of hers, who Imre believes was a fake account.

She continued to declare her love for him when she was released in August last year.

Despite Imre blocking Howells, she kept creating new accounts. After he A-appeared in the documentary, her messages took an even more sinister turn.

Chillingly, Howells told Imre: "If I can't have you, no one else will." She also told him on the bus and in the street that they were "going to die together".

The stalking escalated and in January Howells, of Shrivenham, Oxon, was held again after turning up at a bus stop and shouting and screaming at him. Police found she had a blade.

Imre said: "I felt scared. I was told she was saying she is going to stab me in the neck and she had a knife."

He took a lower-paid job, which he does not wish to reveal, and left Oxford. He did not go to court on July 5 to see her locked up again.

Imre said: "Even though she is behind bars again, I am still in constant fear. Everywhere I look, I think of her. She's ruined my life."

Howells got three years after admitting breaching a restraining order, intimidating a witness and possessing a bladed article.

But Imre said the term "is not long enough" and his own life is now more like serving a sentence.

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He says Howells cost him a relationship with a woman in 2014, due to the stress she caused.

And while he dreams of A-returning to his native Hungary to meet a woman and start a family there, he fears Howells would hurt them.

Imre, who has been supported by charity Paladin, said: "I can't even think about looking for love again. I have too many trust issues and bad memories.

"Her behaviour has also cost me [pounds sterling]10,000 a year because of missed shifts, avoiding overtime and changing jobs.

"It's left me almost bankrupt, meaning I can't afford to move back to my family in Hungary."

Imre said he lives like a "90-year-old", not wanting to go out or see anyone.

He added: "When I close the curtains, that's my happy place. I have two-way film on the windows, I can't see out and others cannot see in. My neighbours don't know me. I am so wary of people."

But Imre is determined to use his A-ordeal to help others, planning to start a website to support stalking victims.

He said: "I am speaking out because I want to warn others about Howells and for stalking victims to seek help."

Thames Valley Police said: "Charlie Howells has subjected the victim to a sustained period of harassment which has had a significant impact on his life.

"She has never shown any remorse but multiple investigations and increasing sentence lengths demonstrate that this behaviour will not be tolerated."

Imre shares his shocking story as Home Office figures show recorded stalking offences have trebled in England and Wales since 2014.

In 2014-15 there were 2,882 but by 2017-18 it had risen to 10,214.

But the percentage of people charged has dropped significantly.

Of the 6,702 cases in which a charge could have been brought, only 1,692 offences, 25 per cent, led to one.

The percentage was far higher in 2014-15, when 49 per cent resulted in a charge.

That figure fell to 32 per cent in 2015-16 and 30 per cent in 2016-17. The Home Office said the rise in incidents is down to better recording.

But a report by the Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate concluded police were failing victims of harassment and stalking.

And while Imre believes stalking is now being taken seriously, he thinks the sentences are still too lenient.

He said: "She has clearly ignored the courts again and again and needs much longer in prison."

CAPTION(S):

Credit: PA Real Life

Imre Marton says he never feels safe

Credit: PA Real Life/Thames Valley Police

Charlie Howells bizarre behaviour included standing just inches behind Imre so she could sniff him

Credit: PA Real Life

To avoid Howells, Imre cut his bus shifts and began working as a bouncer but she found him again
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Title Annotation:News,Real Life Stories
Publication:Daily Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 28, 2018
Words:1463
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