MISS England finalist Samantha Bumford has revealed she “can't go out alone” after her long-term stalker made a terrifying return.
The 27-year-old beauty queen last month spotted Jonathan Deal for the first time since his release from jail – where he was caged twice for following her to events across the UK.
Wannabe rapper Deal, who vowed to dedicate a Britain's Got Talent audition to Samantha, had 19 previous convictions before preying on her.
He is believed to live miles from her home in Dorset – but having seen him twice in the area last month, Samantha is convinced he has started tracking her again.
“He was walking up the road, I was driving down it and we locked eyes,” Samantha told The Sun of the horror moment she saw him again.
“I was completely all over the place.
“That was the first time I went out on my own and he was there.
“I was telling people I was over it but I feel like I can never recover again now. I’m scared because he’s not giving up. What is it going to take? When is this going to end?”
The serial stalker had previously bombarded Samantha with messages, declaring his love for her as he became more and more obsessed.
On one occasion he pushed her against a wall and even broke past security to try and kiss her on stage – telling her she "only did well because the judges thought you were my girlfriend".
Describing how her life has changed since, Samantha, who now works as primary school teacher, said: "I can’t go out on my own. I haven’t been able to attend events. I have no independence and people don’t see that.
“You go to bed every night wondering is he in the area? I search through the house and I double lock the doors. I never used to have to do that.”
Deal was released from prison in May 2019 but was jailed again for 26 weeks in July the same year for breaching a restraining order by re-posting messages on Facebook relating to the Miss Dorset and Miss England contests Samantha was in.
And just two weeks after seeing him for the first time since his release, Samantha spotted Deal again, walking on the other side of the road from her “doing these weird arm movements”.
She said: "I don't feel safe. It's not just had an impact on me, it's had an impact on my family, my friends. It's terrifying."
CALL FOR JUSTICE
The current maximum sentence for stalking without violence is six months – and where violence is a factor, a stalker can be caged for up to ten years.
Samantha is now working with her good friend Paul Scates, a mental health specialist who works in partnership with the NHS, to prolong the maximum sentence for stalking and reclassify it as a more serious crime.
Paul, who has suffered abuse in the past himself, said: “I feel very upset for Sam and her family.
“It’s affected her from doing her charity work, it’s affected her from doing what she’s doing. It’s restricted a whole part of her life.
“Just from working in mental health services, I know where this could lead to. It’s going to lead to something more serious – whether it’s with Sam or someone else. And that’s what we want to protect.”
The pair are hoping to get 100,000 signatures to have the issue considered for debate in parliament.
Samantha said: “It’s about getting justice for everybody.
“Six months is absolutely nothing. It’s a slap on the wrist. Until it happens to you it is the most horrific thing.”
There were 472,590 reports of stalking in England and Wales between March 2019 and March 2020 – 5,029 of these were in Dorset.
Dorset Police said: “At 4.17pm on Monday 3 August 2020 Dorset Police received a report of a possible breach of a restraining order.
“A 40-year-old Bournemouth man has been arrested on suspicion of stalking and breaching a restraining order and has been released under investigation while enquiries continue.”
You can sign Samantha and Paul’s petition here.
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