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Crossbow stalker jailed indefinitely
A jilted man who stalked is ex-girlfriends with a crossbow has been told he may never be released from jail.
Al Amin Dhalla, 42, orchestrated a terrifying campaign of harassment against his ex-girlfriend Brighton doctor Alison Hewitt, 35, and her family.
He was yesterday given an indeterminate sentence. He showed no emotion as a judge said he showed a "deliberate and chilling degree of organisation and planning".
Jailing Dhalla, Judge Charles Kemp said he would not even be considered for release for at least six years.
The judge told him: "You showed a deliberate and chilling degree of organisation and planning. You have tried to put the blame on drink and drugs that you were consuming at the time.
"That is no excuse, but having seen you give evidence I'm satisfied that your methodical planning was deliberate."
The court heard that Dhalla - who wore a crucifix in the dock - had expressed remorse for his actions.
The judge said: "What a pity that you didn't express those sentiments at the outset of these proceedings."
David Lamming, defending, said in mitigation that Dhalla accepts his wrong-doing and wants to return to Canada after he has served his sentence.
He said: "Now that he has had time, after some 15 months in custody and some four and a half months since the trial concluded in February, his position was put to me in summary this morning.
"He said 'I realise what I did was wrong. I'm very ashamed. I was under a lot of stress because of the relationship with Alison and the actions of the Hewitt family'.
"But he instructs me to tell the court that he accepts full responsibility for what he has been convicted, which was out of character.
"What he says is 'Now I just want to serve my time, whatever the sentence is, to go back to Canada and get on with my life'."
The couple split after a year, triggering a four-month stalking campaign by Dhalla during which he tried to burn down her mother and stepfather's home and hired a private investigator to snoop on her.
At the height of the harassment, police airlifted Dr Hewitt's mother, Pamela Hewitt, and stepfather, David Gray, from their holiday home on Lundy Island off the Devon coast amid fears for their safety.
After buying a .22 air rifle, a 1.77 air pistol and two mini crossbows, Dhalla was arrested in a field in Wiltshire, doing target-practice. Days later he torched Dr Hewitt’s thatched cottage 220 miles away in Buckinghamshire.
A few days later on April 7, Dhalla was spotted at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath posing as a doctor.
He returned to her workplace the following day and armed police arrested him. In another car nearby, police found a loaded crossbow, a large knife, fuel cans and a fake doctor's outfit.
In February, Dhalla was found guilty of arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered, attempted arson, harassment of Dr Hewitt and her mother, theft, damaging property, having an offensive weapon and perverting the course of justice. He was found not guilty on two counts including putting a person in fear of violence by harassment. He was also cleared of another theft charge relating to papers and cards.