‘One option was my death at her hands’

A FRENCH woman accused of stalking a North academic threatened him with death and compared her relationship with him to the marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla, a jury heard yesterday.

A FRENCH woman accused of stalking a North academic threatened him with death and compared her relationship with him to the marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla, a jury heard yesterday.

Anna Smirnoff, 49, is alleged to have plagued the married man after being on a 16-day work placement with him in 1990, writing to him up 480 times a month from her home in Paris, Newcastle Crown Court was told.

Her alleged victim yesterday said Smirnoff left him fearing for his life and for the safety of his family and work colleagues, and that the harassment would continue until he died.

Smirnoff was convinced the man, his wife and several of his work colleagues were in sexual relationships with each other, which he yesterday rejected out of hand. She warned him in 2005 to choose between them, her or death.

Glen Gatland, prosecuting, read out many of the letters to the jury yesterday, in which Smirnoff told of her love for the man and described in explicit detail her hatred of those around him.

On May 20, 2005, she wrote: “You get the whole of their smells. You stink so much I can smell you from here. You have three choices – them, death or I. What you choose is your own decision.”

Talking of the effect of the letters on him, the academic said: “I took this to mean one of my options was death at her hands.”

In a previous letter, sent on April 10, 2005, she wrote of watching the marriage of Charles and Camilla live on French television.

She said: “Their wedding is an excellent omen for us. I’m very touched by their long-standing relationship … The whole royalty and Press are going to change in Britain. This is good news. Charles and Camilla will have much better influence on the people. It is a kingdom where I will have my place.”

To that her alleged victim, fearing that Smirnoff would return to Britain, said: “I took this to mean there was some kind of parallel in my relationship with my wife and the defendant’s position was paralleled by Charles and Camilla and Princess Diana.”

Previously the jury was told that Smirnoff, following the work placement, began prowling outside his home, shouting demands for sex and once opened her overcoat to show she was naked. They were told she was prosecuted in 1991 and, after moving back to France in 1992, was warned by police there about her obsession, to no effect.

Yesterday the man told how his workplace had set up a support system for him in which human resources staff and his manager were alerted to the emails and letters from Smirnoff, who described herself as “a warrior” in several.

Mr Gatland said Smirnoff had then turned on those people in her emails, even writing spiteful comments about the network’s internal email filter.

Smirnoff, who is representing herself, denies four charges of putting a person in fear of violence by harassment – referring to the man and three of his fellow workers.

The trial continues.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer