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Elite armed officer says ex ‘threatened to ruin his career in year-long stalking campaign’

An elite firearms officer claims his police ex-girlfriend threatened to wreck his career as part of a year-long stalking campaign, a court heard.

Debra Mackrell, 43, allegedly harassed Paul Brewster after the end of their relationship in October 2016 and is accused of bombarding him with hundreds of unwanted messages and making 1,600 anonymous phone calls.

Mr Brewster, 53, told her trial at Inner London Crown Court the last straw was when she sent him a text saying she would ‘destroy his pension’ which caused the ‘colour to drain from his face’. 

He added the paranoia and panic resulting from her campaign left him ‘messed up’ and he had to ask for time off for the first time in his service.

Jurors were told ‘possessive’ Mackrell, of Milton Keynes, accused Mr Brewster of having an affair with colleague Jenny Devine at Hackney Borough police station before ‘switching her fixation’ to custody officer Genevieve Pereira.   

She is also accused of following him home from work, sending him unwanted post, and even threatening to derail his career by telling superiors he wasn’t mentally fit to carry a gun. 

Mr Brewster, pictured, told a court she threatened to 'destroy his pension' and left him feeling paranoid in his own home

Debra Mackrell, 43, pictured, is accused of stalking and harassing ex-boyfriend and fellow police officer Paul Brewster, right, after becoming convinced he was having an affair before they broke up in 2016. Mr Brewster told a court she threatened to ‘destroy his pension’ and left him feeling paranoid in his own home

Even after the alleged stalking had stopped, Mr Brewster once again received holiday brochures from the company the couple had once used for a holiday to Cyprus. 

Suspicious, he traced the envelope – sent via recorded delivery, and discovered it had been sent by Mackrell, the court heard.  

Giving evidence, he said: ‘I have tried to carry on as best I can. I take pride in my job but I have really struggled to keep my head above water so that no one else can actually see the stress and anxiety it has caused. 

‘It has had a massive impact on my stress levels. Not sleeping properly. It’s messed me up a bit, honestly. 

‘The whole thing unnerved me slightly and for the first time in my service I had to ask for time off.’

He told the jury the experience left him paranoid, checking every room in his house when he got home from work. 

He added: ‘When I received those brochures and signed for them I realise that I had effectively given away my address. 

‘I view where I live as a safe place. I get in there and I close the door and feel totally safe. 

‘When I realised I had compromised my address and had a pretty good idea of where the brochures had come from it made me extremely anxious. 

‘I would sit in my car for five minutes in the dark and look all around me to make sure no one no one was there that should not be there. Then when I went to my front door I would look to see if it had been tampered with. 

‘When I was happy with that I would let myself in. I feel embarrassed about this but I would systematically clear every room.’ 

He added: ‘That’s been a mixture of me being anxious and agitated and watching too many certain programs on TV but it would take me 10 minutes from arriving home to get from my car to feeling safe that went on for weeks. Truthfully that has not really stopped.’ 

Mackrell was arrested in June 2017 when Mr Brewster reported the alleged harassment to superiors after a colleague saw ‘the colour drain from his face’ when he says she threatened to ruin his career. 

He said: ‘I was at work one morning out on patrol with a colleague and I received a lot of text messages from Debra just with the same stuff that had been going on for months but the thing that really made me panic to the point where I realised a bit too much it was the threat. 

A court heard Mackrell believed Mr Brewster had been seeing two colleagues at Hackney police station, pictured 

‘She said something like “I know you have worked really hard for the last 21 years and you have got a good reputation but I’m going to destroy you and take your pension”.

‘I was a passenger at the time and my colleague could see that my head was buried in my phone but when that message came through that’s when the colour drained from my face and he realised something was up and that’s when the police got involved.’ 

Inner London Crown Court also heard Mackrell threatened to tell Mr Brewster’s superiors in the SO19 firearms unit he was ‘mentally unfit to handle a gun’ to get him kicked out. 

David Povall, prosecuting, claimed Mackrell’s behaviour showed ‘a degree of obsession.’

He said: ‘She stalked, harassed her ex-partner over a period of months by bombarding him with messages, by making nuisance phone calls, by turning up at his place of work and travelling home with him, ultimately by sending him unwanted post while she was awaiting trial for this case.

‘One of the things that contributed to the end of that relationship was that Paul Brewster found that Debra Mackrell is very possessive and very jealous, she accused him of carrying on an affair with another officer Jenny Devine.’

The court heard after their break-up there was initially little contact until Mackrell started sending messages when Mr Brewster stopped working in Hackney Borough and moved to the SO19 firearms team. 

Mr Povall said: ‘She was suggesting that he was now in a relationship with the female custody officer who worked at Hackney Borough by the name Genevieve Pereira.

‘He said he was not but she did not believe him and over a period of months, leading up to June 2016, there were text exchanges between them – not every day but consistently and regularly – during which she refused to accept he was not in a relationship with her, during which she abused him and suggested that this was an affront to her, and during which she abused Genevieve Pereira.’

She was then accused of making threats to ruin Mr Brewster’s career as a firearms officer.

Inner London Crown Court, pictured, heard Mackrell had threatened to tell Mr Brewster's superiors he was 'mentally unfit' to wield a gun

Inner London Crown Court, pictured, heard Mackrell had threatened to tell Mr Brewster’s superiors he was ‘mentally unfit’ to wield a gun

Mr Povall continued: ‘He received sometimes dozens or hundreds of calls in a day. He would leave work on occasions and finds that she was there waiting for him or she would follow him and join him as he was walking home – it was something he found unnerving.

‘The messages to him were starting to escalate to threats that she would take action to damage his career and go to the Directorate of Professional Standards and suggest that he was not mentally fit for carrying firearms.’

Mr Povall showed the jury sample pages of text messages where Mackrell continuously contacted Mr Brewster over a period of 12 hours – even continuing when he begged her not to.

It was only after her arrest on October 6, 2017, that the extent of her communication came to light.

The court heard two of her phones seized and showed she sometimes sent hundreds of texts to him each day alongside the 1,600 phone calls.

While awaiting trial she was arrested again after a brochure from a holiday company they had used as a couple was posted to Mr Brewster’s home and was traced back to her.

Mr Povall said: ‘In March 2019, once there had been no further contact and the calls had ended, he received an envelope – a large A4 envelope, and when he opened it up he found it contained a brochure was from a holiday company for holidays in Cyprus.

‘He was not on their mailing list but that was a holiday company he used with Debra Mackrell when they were in a relationship. Inquiries were made to see where that came from because it had come signed for Royal Mail Service.’

CCTV of a post office where the letter was sent from showed Mackrell with the envelope.

Mr Povall added: ‘We suggest the clear intention of that was to fly up another flag to say ‘I’m still here.’

The trial continues.


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