Image caption Helen Pearson: Police apology “doesn’t do anything for me”

A woman who was stabbed by her stalker has dismissed a police apology as “meaningless”.

Helen Pearson, 34, was suffered neck and face wounds when her neighbour Joseph Willis attacked her with scissors in an Exeter graveyard.

She had made 125 reports to Devon and Cornwall Police about Willis’ stalking before the attack in 2013.

The force said its “investigation and victim care did not meet the high standards we expect”.

Ms Pearson said the apology “didn’t do anything” for her and said she was “still suffering every day because of what happened to me”.

Image caption Helen Pearson had reported 125 separate incidents to Devon and Cornwall Police about the stalking before the attack.

“All I can hope is that what happened to me means police officers get more training and deal with victims of stalking better – so that no-one else has to go through what I did,” she said.

Willis was jailed for life for attempted murder.

A court heard that Ms Pearson’s flat and car had been targeted by Willis, abusive messages were daubed on the streets around her house and threatening letters were sent to her between 18 January 2009 and 21 October 2013, when she was attacked.

Image caption Helen Pearson: “All I can hope is that what happened to me means police officers get more training”

The force said its Professional Standards Department had found cases of misconduct against three officers, one of which had retired.

There was no detail immediately available on what action was taken against the other two officers.

Two further officers did not have a case to answer, but were given “management guidance and advice”.

‘Slow motion murder’

Alexis Bowater, former chief executive of Network for Surviving Stalking, said she was “still, sadly, getting calls from victims saying that police are not taking their complaints seriously”.

Image copyright Exeter Express and Echo
Image caption Joseph Willis was jailed for life for attempted murder

“They call it murder in slow motion,” she said. “Taking stalking seriously is murder prevention.”

Chief Constable Sean Sawyer had met the Pearson family and had “offered a personal apology to them” said the force.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Netherton said “numerous changes” in the force’s stalking investigations had been made since the attack.

Officers were given “appropriate and regular training” and the force would “continue to strive to ensure that this type of incident is not repeated”.

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