A CHRISTCHURCH man who lives with nine life-size dolls has been ordered to stay away from a former schoolfriend he admitted stalking.
Magistrates heard Everard Cunion (62) became infatuated with Julie Taylor, who the lifelong bachelor had “never got over” since last seeing her when they left school in 1962.
After re-evaluating his life when he was made redundant from his IT software job earlier this year, Cunion decided to get in touch with Ms Taylor, the court was told.
He researched births, deaths and marriage registers to find her, obtained a wedding photo and turning up at her old family home where her 88-year-old mother Georgina Allen still lived.
Prosecutor Lee Turner explained Cunion’s unrequited love for Ms Taylor began when he went to school with her between 1968 and 1972.
“They last saw each other on the last day of school in 1972,” Mr Turner said. “He wrote a letter to her in the early 1970s but it didn’t reach her as her mother burnt it, and in 1978 she received a letter from him but disposed of it and didn’t reply.
“In May this year he went to the old family home [in Christchurch] and the door was answered by her 88-year-old mother. He started asking questions about her daughter and she immediately recognised him as the male who used to have an infatuation with her daughter at school.
“He tried to give her a letter but she said no and shut the door. A couple of days later post arrived addressed to Julie Allen, her maiden name, detailing how much he wanted to get in touch.”
The defendant sent a further seven letters over the next four months, and in one made reference to some gates that Mrs Allen had just installed, causing her to fear he was watching the property, said Mr Turner.
“The letters started off short and over time became lengthier and more rambled,” the prosecutor continued.
“The fifth letter, in August, caused her to phone the police as he made reference to wanting to kidnap her,” the prosecutor said. “It was written in a light-hearted way saying his kidnapping days were done but it caused her alarm.
“He also made reference to having researched her and knew little-known private details. In a letter in September he detailed an incident in which he followed a female leaving the address on foot believing it was Julie – it wasn’t. She never replied to any letters.”
Cunion initially denied his behaviour amounted to harassment but subsequently changed tack and admitted one charge of stalking Ms Taylor, 62, and one of harassing her mother.
James Moore, defending, said Cunion intended “no malice”, adding: “Redundancy caused him to take stock of his life and all he wanted to do was see if he could rekindle a friendship with her.
“He realises that is not going to happen and since his arrest he hasn’t engaged in any behaviour like this with Julie or her mother.”
Mr Moore added his client did not oppose the restraining order and was “keen” to draw the matter to a conclusion.
Cunion was told to carry out 120 hours of unpaid community work by Poole magistrates. The Bench also banned him from contacting Ms Taylor or her mother until 2023.
At one hearing, Cunion spoke to journalists. “I upset her (Ms Taylor) when I was at school and it’s haunted me for 50 years,” he said. “I was determined to try to find out if she was okay but clearly I alarmed her. I wanted to find a way of making it up to her.
“Girls have to be able to reject guys they don’t want and those guys have to accept that,” Cunion continued. “For some reason I have not really been able to. It’s a shame and I do feel really stupid about the whole thing.”
Cunion is well-known for living with dolls at his Fairmile Road home and has featured on TV shows. He has his own website everardcunion.com which features his book and film reviews, as well as posts about hang-gliding and insights into the personalities he gives his dolls.