For four long years, renowned consultant psychiatrist and former UN peacekeeper, Dr Jan Falkowski found himself in the centre of a threatening, abusive and malicious campaign.
His story began in 2002 when he began receiving phone calls and text messages from an unknown, ‘Spanish sounding’ lady who made no secret of how she felt about him, she was absolutely besotted. Unfortunately for her, Dr Falkowski, then 41, did not feel the same way. Not only did he have no idea who she was, he was already happily engaged to his fiancé, Debbie Pemberton.
“And that was one of the really surreal things about it, my life was going fairly well, I was quite happy with things, no major problems, and then suddenly everything changed overnight, literally, without any warning.”Dr Jan Falkowski / Independent
The infatuated caller found out the subject of her desires was engaged to another woman when Falkowski and Pemberton announced their engagement in a feature for an NHS magazine. The tone of her calls immediately changed from love and adoration to malicious and sinister threats.
The Unknown woman constantly bombarded the couple with calls, emails and text messages, sometimes even going as far as contacting their families, friends and co-workers. It was clear from the content of the messages that this was more than just a love / hate campaign. The couple were being stalked!
The unwanted admirer would give Dr Falkowski detailed information of what himself and Pemberton had been doing, including places they’d been and people they’d spent time with. At one point she’d managed to find out Pemberton was planning on getting her teeth whitened in a few days time and warned;
“Her mouth could burn.”Independent
Dr Jan Falkowski was a record-breaking powerboat racer in his spare time. On one particular occasion, Falkowski had arranged to take fellow racers out onto the Salterns Marina in his houseboat but cancelled the trip when he discovered that his boat had been broken into and interfered with. He called the authorities who evacuated the entire marina whilst the bomb squad investigated the vessel and the surrounding area. It was concluded that all the gas taps on the boat had been switched on, including a gas cooker which Falkowski had never used, to induce an explosion. Police dusted for fingerprints but none were found and whoever the culprit was, they had somehow managed to breech security checks at the marina gate, where the houseboat was docked.
The days went on as did the calls and messages. As the date for the wedding grew closer, the harassment intensified. Falkowski’s bride to be was warned by the vicious caller that she would be;
“Burnt down in her wedding dress”. and
“Your life will end, gunman paid, Bang, bang, bang is all you deserve”.The Guardian
The couple were advised by police to make a log of all and every contact made by their stalker but it soon became clear that getting enough evidence to capture her was going to be extremely difficult. It was discovered that the majority of calls were being made from telephone boxes within Poole.
Undeterred, the anonymous woman attempted to cancel the wedding venue booking at The Salterns Hotel – four times, and when that didn’t work she threatened the head chef, Sharon Malins, stating;
“Sharon please Falkowski-Pemberton wedding can’t take place, food has been poisoned, guests will be dead.”
Dr Jan Falkowski and his bride-to-be decided that there had been enough threats to life over the wedding and made the decision to cancel their nuptials and all guests were informed not to attend, However, police convinced them to stage a fake wedding on the day of the would-be-wedding, in September 2003. Many plain clothes police officers swarmed the area, ready to swoop in on local phone boxes, should any calls be made in a last ditch attempt to sabotage the event, which they predicated there would be.
The anonymous caller didn’t disappoint and she took the bait hook line and sinker. She began to call Pemberton and the ‘wedding guests’, threatening her not to marry Falkowski, in a last ditch attempt to ruin the wedding. Police traced the calls but frustratingly they always arrived at the phone boxes after the caller had left. Then a call came in from a phone box on the beach, right where some police officers happened to be waiting. They ran to the location and were just in time to witness a woman leaving the box. She was promptly arrested for harassment.
The woman behind Dr Jan Falkowski and Debbie Pemberton’s malicious and threatening phone calls was identified as 45 year old Argentinian, Maria Marchese. Bizarrely she had only met Falkowski a handful of times at the most, when she had accompanied her then boyfriend, George Attard, to therapy sessions in St Clement’s Hospital, Bow, London. All it had taken was one meeting for her to become infatuated with him. Ironically, he had no recollection of ever meeting her. She’d been obsessed with a man who’d had no idea she even existed.
Despite the relief of Marchese being identified and arrested, the ordeal had taken it’s toll on the couple. The constant torrent of abuse and threat to kill had broken Pemberton to the point she contemplated suicide. Years later, she recalled;
I received up to 10 texts a day from a stalker, threatening to kill me. A time when I lived every second in fear, ducking into doorways on my way to work in case I was being followed; when I was terrified to tell friends and even my family what I was going through, in case one of them was my tormentor. A time when panic was an emotion I felt every waking hour.Debra Pemberton / newssvet
Falkowski and Pemberton’s relationship buckled under the pressure of the last few years and they decided to separate. Of course, it didn’t help matters that Falkowski had been having an affair with a younger woman, Bethan Ancell.
“The stalker was always there between Deb and I; we didn’t know who was doing it, and it was frustrating. [Bethan was] somebody who wasn’t involved in it at all, somebody not stuck in that confinement,”Dr Jan Falkowski / Independent
But the horrifying situation was far from over for Falkowski…
In November 2003, the Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) decided there was insufficient evidence to prove Marchese was guilty of harassment. Regardless of the fact she had been caught in the act of leaving the very phone box from which the call was made, she had also been found with a vast amount of small change in her pocket, in which to pay for the calls. Upon further investigation of her flat, police also unearthed a shrine, eerily dedicated to Falkowski.
With the charges against her dropped, Marchese was a free woman once again and her attention went right back onto Falkowski…
With the affair out in the open and his relationship with Pemberton over, Falkowski and Ancell decided to make their relationship official. Marchese felt betrayed, hurt, humiliated and above all else, infuriated. The scorned stalker was determined to make him pay for everything she felt he had put her through. To add to her anger, she learned Falkowski had also refused to be Attard’s therapist anymore, because of her.
In early 2004, Marchese rang the police and reported that she had been drugged and raped back in 2002 – by Falkowski! Everyone thought it was just another one of her vindictive games, designed to destroy his reputation and relationships. However, in a twist that no-one saw coming, she produced a pair of knickers as evidence which upon forensic testing, contained DNA from not only Marchese but also Falkowski! He denied everything of course, but was it possible he had previously and viciously attacked the woman who had put him and those close to him through hell?
The CPS certainly believed so and, confident they had enough evidence against him, they decided to prosecute Dr Jan Falkowski for the drugging and raping of Maria Marchese and he was suspended from his job at London’s Mile End Hospital. Falkowski insisted he was innocent, claiming he had never been alone with the woman, ever. Fortunately for him his legal counsel believed him. Confused as to how his DNA wound up on her knickers, lawyers acting on behalf of Falkowski ordered further testing to be carried out on the underwear, and this time, in yet another twist to the case, a third DNA profile was found alongside that of Marchese and Falkowski. It belonged to Falkowski’s girlfriend, Bethan Ancell!
This certainly threw a spanner in the works, as Falkowski and Ancell hadn’t met until 2003, yet Marchese was claiming he had raped her in 2002. So how would Ancell’s DNA have got onto a pair of Marchese’s knickers?
Falkowski and Ancell recalled that on several occasions the rubbish had been tipped out of the main bin outside Ancell’s flat, something they had assumed at the time was down to animals. It turned out it had been Marchese who had actually been rummaging through their trash, looking for goodness knows only what, when she found a used condom amongst the rest of the rubbish. Sickeningly she had used the contents of the used condom to smear the DNA over her underwear and then used the falsified evidence in her plot to frame Falkowski for rape.
With literally only two days to go before Falkowski’s trial at the Old Bailey, enough evidence was gathered to prove Maria Marchese was lying all along and a relieved Falkowski was aquitted of raping her.
Marchese was furious that the CPS had dropped the charges against Falkowski, so much so she sought revenge on anyone who she felt had wronged her. She hounded Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Kay Scudder, 46, with phone calls demanding she re-instate the case against Falkowski and would wait outside the CPS headquarters in Ludgate Hill, ready to Ambush Scudder whenever she left the building.
“I would get different trains to work, walk different routes, wear casual clothing.”Kay Scudder / Evening Standard
The threats and harassment against Scudder became so intense the CPS decided to ‘attack-proof’ her home, turning her bedroom into a panic room – complete with a panic alarm which was linked directly to the police station, CCTV cameras and a fire proof letter box. It was like something out of the movies.
A deranged Marchese also targeted Falkowski’s Barrister by throwing blood over the front of his house and bizarrely leaving a red rose just outside it.
This time around the CPS had more than enough evidence against Marchese and she was finally convicted at Southwark Crown Court, on August 2nd 2006, of harassment, perverting the course of justice, threats to kill and sending malicious and threatening communication against Falkowski and his ex girlfriend Debbie Pemberton. When giving evidence during the trial, Falkowski told the jury;
“The professional consequences were devastating, I never realised somebody so evil would go to such a concerted effort to destroy my life and that of Debbie Pemberton.”Dr Jan Falkowski / The Guardian
Marchese, dubbed by the press as the Condom Stalker, was sentenced to 9 years in prison, of which she had to serve at least 6 years before being considered for parole. Judge John Price told her;
“What you did to those two was dreadfully painful, dreadfully hard and caused them enormous suffering, It is difficult to imagine a more serious case. The effect on the victims was dramatic.”Judge John price / BBC News
Marchese was also ordered to pay Falkowski and Pemberton £9000 each from her own savings, if she failed to pay within 3 months then a further year would be added to her sentence. She was also given a lifelong restraining order, which banned her from several addresses and ordered her to stay away from more than 40 people.
“including the prosecuting barristers, another senior prosecution lawyer and the detective who led the police investigation.”Evening standard
Speaking outside the court after the sentence was handed down, Falkowski said;
“It’s been a catastrophic effect and it’s made a massive impact on my life over the last three or four years, I’m very glad finally to have the sentencing out of the way, so I can put it all behind me. I think in the end, the result and the sentence today sort of vindicate the fact that I was always innocent. I think it’s very unfortunate the way things went, but I’m very glad now that finally she’s been given a long sentence which she deserves.”Dr Jan Falkowski / BBC News
It turns out it wasn’t the first time Marchese had harassed a man who had unwittingly become the object of her desires. Before setting her sights on Dr Falkowski she had stalked the husband of a happily married couple, accusing him of assault too. She had been let off with a caution.
- Independent: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/man-who-was-target-britain-s-worst-stalker-2070105.html
- Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2007/jan/20/ukcrime.uknews2
- UK True Crime: Facebook
- BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6277969.stm
- Newssvet: http://newssvet.blogspot.com/2017/04/debbie-pemberton-39-was-driven-to-brink.html
- Evening Standard: https://www.standard.co.uk/hp/front/lawyer-was-terrorised-by-stalker-who-said-doctor-raped-her-7243291.html
- Team Britannia PR: https://www.teambritanniapr.com/jan-falkowski
- Pressreader: https://www.pressreader.com/uk/daily-star-sunday/20070120/283184373955642 / https://www.pressreader.com/uk/the-daily-telegraph/20070120/281788509584489
- Bournmouth Echo: https://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/11455858.well-be-completely-overshadowed-residents-unhappy-with-plans-to-replace-salterns-hotel-with-five-story-hotel/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/whoshotfirstdev/status/1081627567134695424?lang=ga
- Londonist: https://londonist.com/london/features/courts-london-visit-supreme-court-old-bailey-royal-courts-justice-how
- Getty Images: https://www.gettyimages.co.uk/videos/cps-building
- Mail online: http://ep.yimg.com/ty/cdn/realityzone/UFNukPolicemanChildPorn.html