Park ‘stalker’ found approaching children

Repeat park “stalker” Margaret Mabel Dodds is back on supervision after being found watching children and then trying to talk to them.

The 63-year-old has been attending a Stop programme for sex offenders, but was found twice last month in a Christchurch park in breach of a trespass order.

After admitting a trespass charge at the Christchurch District Court yesterday, she was placed on supervision for nine months.

Police said the Dodds was trespassed from Cashmere Park for two years in April 2017, and when they arrived on January 20, about 4pm, she was sitting on a park bench watching children.

She was removed and told not to return, but she was found there again on January 21, this time attempting to talk to children.

She told police that she couldn’t help herself, and was doing nothing wrong, but she has a long history of following and trying to talk to children.

She has one conviction for assaulting a child in 2014.

Defence counsel Nicola Pointer said Dodds was attending a STOP programme that she enrolled in herself last October.

She said Dodds had tried hard and didn’t want to lose momentum with her treatment.

Dodds apologised to police and members of the public for causing concern and upset, she said.

Community Magistrate Simon Heale said Dodds had previously received prison sentences for this type of offending, but acknowledged she could not complete community-based sentences because of her mental health issues.

He said she now had sufficient insight to seek assistance herself with on-going fortnightly session, but this offending occurred after she had commenced the programme, so the nine months’ supervision was to assist her.

She is to attend any rehabilitation programmes recommended by her parole officer.

Dodds has been a long-term resident at the Seager Clinic, an inpatient mental health service at Princess Margaret Hospital.

She has been trespassed from buses, malls, and many public facilities, and messages have often been posted on social media warning about her activities when she has been sighted.