A young public relations executive described years of terror at the hands of an obsessed City trader who stalked her from the UK to South Africa – and fire bombed her family home.
Ghumman is awaiting sentence after being found guilty at a court in Cape Town of four charges including the attempted murder of Philip Rhind.
‘He has made my life hell,’ Miss Rhind said after the verdict. ‘He’s been a danger to me and a danger to my family for years.’
Campaigners hope new anti-stalking laws announced by David Cameron last week will help prevent ordeals like those suffered by Miss Rhind.
Shumsheer Ghumman became obsessed with Hannah Rhind, eventually trying to kill her father after he ordered the City trader to stay away
Ghumman, a former fund manager at a Japanese investment bank in the City, and Miss Rhind, 30, first came into contact in March 2009, when they both attended a mutual friend’s dinner party at a private members’ club in central London.
Ghumman immediately showed his interest with a barrage of emails, text and Facebook messages and phone calls. Miss Rhind rejected his advances but remained polite and friendly.
The situation escalated after Ghumman saw on Facebook that she was attending a wine tasting event at Harrods, in Knightsbridge. He was the only one of her friends to turn up, and apparently assumed that she had deliberately arranged the invitation just for him.
Over the coming months, he became even more persistent until she eventually agreed to meet him for a picnic because, as she told the court, she had ‘run out of excuses as to why I couldn’t meet him’.
Although she quickly ended the date by feigning a bout of hay fever, he continued to bombard her with text messages and emails, and also began following her.
By July 2009, she was so worried that she called her father, a former HSBC executive now based in Cape Town, where he holds a senior post in a company with interests in diamonds and other minerals.
Mr Rhind called Ghumman and warned him to stay away from his daughter but, he says, the young banker seemed to find this ‘amusing’. A day or two later, the emails and texts began again.
Finally, Miss Rhind went to the police. In December 2009, Westminster magistrates issued a restraining order against Ghumman.
Target: The Rhind family home in Cape Town could have burned down following a petrol bomb attack
Instead of desisting, however, he seemingly made her father the target of his campaign.
‘He sent me extraordinary emails – they were outrageous,’ Mr Rhind told the court in Cape Town. ‘But at least he was harassing me, not Hannah.’
Mr Rhind complained to police again and, in August 2010, Ghumman was found guilty of harassment by magistrates near his South London home.
He was ordered to do 180 hours of community service and fined – and the family thought their ordeal was over.
But then in January last year, Ghumman decided to ignore English law and made the extraordinary move of travelling to Cape Town.
Miss Rhind had already flown to South Africa to spend Christmas with her parents.
Posing as a freelance photo-journalist under the name Michael Kirkham, Ghumman, an Australian and Indian citizen, trawled the city’s underworld looking for a hitman to kill Hannah’s father.
He arranged to meet with three hitmen, using reports of the ‘honeymoon hijacking’ murder of Anni Dewani as an example of the killer he wanted to meet – ‘someone who has absolutely no compunction about behaving with appalling violence’.
He apparently made an arrangement with one of the three self-proclaimed killers, but when the man pulled out, Ghumman decided to make his own attempt on Mr Rhind’s life.
He tracked down Miss Rhind’s parents’ seafront home in Cape Town and threw petrol bombs at it in the early hours of January 14. Winds prevented the flames taking hold and Miss Rhind’s parents were unharmed.
Miss Rhind had left two days earlier to return to London. Ghumman was later arrested.
He was found guilty of fraud, incitement to murder, attempted murder and malicious injury to property. Miss Rhind testified against him, rejecting claims that she had ‘led him on’.
‘It is so important that the judge gave this verdict because he [Ghumman] is dangerous,’ Miss Rhind said after the verdict. ‘This shows just how important it is to take stalking very seriously and to react to it very, very quickly.’
David Cameron may have had her words in mind when he announced last week that the Government was to strengthen anti-stalking laws to offer more protections for victims.
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