Title: U BE DEAD
Genre: drama/crime/police procedurals/
Runtime: 90+/- minutes
History AU: first aired Saturday, 6 June 2009 at 1930hrs
Original AU: unknown
Original airdate UK: TBA
Network AU: unknown
Network UK: ITV
Related link: BBC News Report

Cast: David Morrissey as Dr. Jan Falkowski, Alex Lowe as Drew Langdon, Tara Fitzgerald as Debra Pemberton, Dearbhla Molloy as Dr. Bernice Falkowska, Michael Elwyn as Prof. Wojciech Falkowski, Thomas Craig as DC Lee Rutter, Alexis Zegerman as Gemma, Richard Lumsden as DI Steven Thorpe, Lucy Griffiths as Bethan Ancell, Susannah Wise as Laura, Jan Francis as Irene Pemberton, John McArdle as Brian Pemberton, Kate Steavenson-Payne as Helena, Monica Dolan as Maria Marchese, David Groves as Damian Falkowski, Simon Snashall as DC Foggy Horne, Lucas Hare as Duty Solicitor, Paul Bridle as Uniformed PC, Sean Blowers as DC Simon Nation David Kennedy as DS Malcolm Davies, Lucy Robinson as Kay Scudder, Guy Henry as Stephan Perrian, Guy Lankester as Clerk, Sam Bond as Jan's Solicitor, Andi Osho as FSS Scientist, Daniel Betts as Mark Fenhalls, George Pensotti as Judge Price, Pip Torrens as Mr Higginson.

Preface: Based on an extraordinary true story, U BE DEAD begins in Oct 2002, when London psychiatrist Dr Jan Falkowski was living with his fiancée Debbie Pemberton on a houseboat in an East London marina. Both successful boat racers, the couple were happily planning their forthcoming wedding. One day, out of the blue, Jan received a text on his mobile from a stranger claiming to be in love with him.

Synopsis: Jan Falkowski received more than 20 text messages over the course of that evening. More followed the next day. And the next. At the start, the messages were more baffling than threatening and the couple tried their best to ignore them. But then the phone calls started

Over time, the texts and calls, made from public phone boxes so as to be untraceable, got uglier, filled with accurate details about the couples’ lives, where they worked, where they sailed, where they went for dinner. They proclaimed undying love for Jan and murderous intent towards Debbie. The police began to monitor the stalker’s messages, as the couple were forced to perform the soul-destroying task of logging every text. One night Jan came home to find all the lights on his boat switched on. A few nights later he and Debbie were overwhelmed by the smell of gas as they stepped on board. The stalker was relentless, cancelling their wedding arrangements, targeting their families and threatening those close to the couple.

In fear of their lives and with their relationship floundering under the strain, Jan and Debbie moved from the boat to a flat where nobody, not even their parents, knew the address. To try and flush the stalker out, Debbie came up with the idea of staging a fake wedding in Poole, accompanied by their family and friends. What she hadn’t yet realised was that Jan had now fallen in love with a younger woman, Bethan Ancell, who worked on the boat racing circuit with them. Frustrated with Debbie’s crumbling nerve, Jan had already embarked on a passionate affair with Bethan.

Jan, however, agreed to go through with the wedding charade, shadowed by plain clothes officers. Texts and phone calls rained down on everyone connected to the wedding, with warnings that the wedding food had been poisoned: “Prepare your funeral, not your wedding” Debbie’s tormentor warned her. The messages grew more and more desperate as the ‘wedding’ approached, with police following the trail of phone boxes used by the stalker.

Finally, the police began to close in. As a final text arrived - “U BE DEAD” - they surrounded the phone box it was sent from and arrested the woman who had been stalking Jan and Debbie for two years.

The stalker caught in the act was Maria Marchese, a 45-year-old woman from Argentina. With Maria in custody Jan and Debbie believed their nightmare was over. However, this was no open and shut case…Marchese didn’t fit the usual profile nor did she seem to have a motive for her obsessional pursuit of Jan, Jan had only met Marchese a handful of times, when she visited his surgery with a patient of his.

Marchese initially denied she was guilty of harassing Jan and then delivered the most crushing blow of all, a rape accusation. As a rape suspect Jan was suspended from his psychiatric practice, pending the trial, and if found guilty faced a life sentence. The Crown Prosecution Service dropped the stalking case against Marchese. Having lost all sympathy for Jan, Debbie fled to France to begin a new life, leaving Jan free to pursue his relationship with Bethan.

Marchese claimed to have DNA evidence that Jan had raped her, his DNA in her underwear. Two days before Jan was due to stand in the dock at the Old Bailey, tests finally revealed that a third DNA trace came from Bethan, whom Jan did not meet until a year after the date Maria claimed he had raped her. The police concluded that Marchese had stolen a condom from Jan’s dustbin and smeared its contents on to her knickers, an extraordinary forensic detail which propelled this real life case on to the front pages of the tabloids.

But still it was not over, as the police decided to revive the case against Maria for harassment. Jan prepared to meet his stalker in court, but his case was hampered by the fact that Debbie, still hurt by Jan’s new relationship, refused to testify. It looked like Marchese would get off once again. Debbie finally caved into the prosecution lawyer’s pleas and made a last minute appearance, moving the jury to tears with her description of the hell she and Jan were put through. Maria Marchese was found guilty and given a nine-year sentence, a testament to the severity of what Detective Sergeant Malcolm Davies, of the Metropolitan police, called “one of the worst cases of stalking we have ever had to investigate”.

Source: ITV

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