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Hounded: teaching assistant suffered years of abuse before taking her own life
8:52am Thursday 18th October 2012 in Latest
A MUM-OF-THREE took her own life at home in Poole six weeks after receiving a voodoo doll in the post.
Wendy Harries, who was 39 when she died, had also been targeted by an anonymous harasser for two years over Facebook and email.
However, coroner for Bournemouth, Poole and Eastern Dorset Sheriff Payne said there was insufficient evidence to tie the harassment to Miss Harries’ death.
He said: “There is not a clear enough or recent enough link to suggest she decided to take her own life because of this.
“I think there were other things going on that persuaded her that her life was not worth living.”
The teaching assistant at Upton Infants School had also been distressed after her middle son left her home to live with ex-husband Mark Harries.
No one has been prosecuted over the messages despite a Dorset Police investigation.
Detective Inspector Rebecca Riggs of the Eastern Criminal Investigation Department based at Bournemouth police station said officers had been called about the voodoo doll on December 12 last year.
However, Miss Harries didn’t tell police about the anonymous internet communications.
Det Insp Riggs said: “Sadly, the conclusion of this investigation is that the police have not been able to identify anyone responsible for sending the communications to Ms Harries and therefore this will be filed as undetected.”
Ex-boyfriend Steve Cock, who was Miss Harries’ ex-husband’s former business partner, also received a voodoo doll.
“Early in 2010 she started to get odd emails from unknown sources trying to split us up,” he said.
“One of the emails said they’d seen her out in Poole when she was on a hen party and we were seen out together on the harbour front.
“It seemed like we were being watched.”
Best friend Susan Austin, who was also Miss Harries’ neighbour, said the messages were disturbing.
“She was getting them all the time – every couple of days,” she said.
“She locked the doors straight away behind her and put extra locks and bolts on the back gate.”
The coroner has recorded a verdict of suicide.
Dorset Police have said they investigated the harassment after Miss Harries’ death.
The head of Upton Infants School said Wendy was much-missed. Nigel Helm said: “Last month, we created Wendy’s Garden in her memory.
“We turned an area of unused woodland into an area where children can go and use their imaginations and play. It was officially opened on September 19, which would have been her 40th birthday. We had a small gathering to remember her, and some of her friends from the community came along too, which was nice.”
Miss Harries had worked with the youngest pupils at the school since September 2011.
Mr Helm said: “A couple of people spoke about Wendy
and her character, how caring she was towards her children and how much she enjoyed having fun.”
Detective Inspector Rebecca Riggs, of Poole and Bournemouth CID, said: “Following Wendy Harries’ death, Dorset Police was notified by the coroner’s office of concerns regarding letters, copies of Facebook chats and emails that related to the harassment of Ms Harries.
“These had been given to the coroner. In December 2011 Ms Harries reported that she had received a voodoo doll and letter by post from an unknown source.
"The incident was investigated and no other documents were disclosed to officers at the time and Ms Harries made no mention of offensive emails or Facebook chat she had been receiving.”
DI Riggs added that at the end of the police investigation officers were not able to identify who had been harassing Miss Harries