Wembley couple slam lenient sentence given to violent 'stalker' who narrowly avoided jail
PUBLISHED: 10:27 30 January 2019 | UPDATED: 15:39 30 January 2019
A vulnerable couple have slammed the lenient sentence given to a "stalker" who threatened to murder them.
Mark Wilks narrowly avoided jail with a 20-week sentence suspended for two years at Willesden Magistrates Court on Friday.
The 35-year-old was found guilty of criminal damage, threatening words and behaviour, and using violence to secure entry to Andrew and Gustavo William Coleman’s home in Elm Road on November 12. The court heard he had committed the crimes, which he denied, while on a community order for a previous conviction.
Magistrate Abigail Poulard said: “We were very close to sending you directly to prison. This is an opportunity with your new job to take it and move on.”
The couple are appealing the conviction, calling it a “slap in the face”.
Andrew said: “I’m ecstatic that I proved all the evidence to get three guilty verdicts.
“He denied all of it. I had to prove beyond reasonable doubt what he did.
“He terrorised us, threatened to murder us. He came here 17 times.
“I believe the sentence to be a complete slap in the face. I’ve made an appeal directly to the attorney general.
“I’ve asked the LGBT agencies to raise a petition over the soft approach the magistrate has taken. I believe there was a level of discrimination.”
But he added: “We are very grateful to the two police officers who apprehended them and want them recommended for bravery.”
The couple, who have pleaded with Brent Council to move them to a safe place, were terrified when Wilks smashed down the communal front door of the Euro Wembley Hotel.
As previously reported in this paper, he stormed the property and shouting at the couple’s own door: “Open the f***ing door. I’m going to f***ing murder you.”
Witnesses also saw him putting two fingers together imitating a gun and making gestures.
Andrew pressed the panic alarm given to him by police following a separate horrific homophobic attack in June, for which no one was ever caught, and Wilks fled on hearing the sirens.
He was fined £600 and must not enter Elm Road for five years as the result of a restraining order.
Nik Noone, chief exec of Galop, an LGBT and anti-violence charity, said: “Andrew and Gustavo’s bravery should be commended. “It’s more important than ever community to stand together in rejection of homophobia, transphobia, biphobia and all other form of intolerance (from taking hold) in the UK.
“Recorded hate crimes targeting LGBT people have doubled in just three years.
“Our hate crime support service has seen a similar escalation.
“This is cause for serious concern.”