Stalker Al Amin Dhalla began a campaign of terror against former girlfriend, trainee doctor, Alison Hewitt, in 2012. Having met through a dating agency in January 2010, the couple were in a relationship for over a year before Alison’s mother became suspicious of Dhalla and hired a private investigator. The investigation soon revealed the string of lies that Alison’s boyfriend had told, but it wasn’t until Alison tried to leave him that the real Dhalla came out and he started stalking her, writing to neighbours and publicly accusing Alison of killing a patient using NHS drugs. The harassment continued until police arrested Dhalla, finding a torture chamber built in the back of his van including knives, tape and most shockingly, a loaded crossbow. However, when released on bail, Dhalla headed straight to Alison’s parents’ house which he torched.
Luckily, the family were able to escape and, after a deadly game of cat and mouse, Dhalla was put behind bars and sentenced to a minimum of 6 years.
When 35-year-old doctor Alison Hewitt joined a dating service, she was looking for a partner, someone to keep her company and to settle down with. Having been introduced to 35-year-old Canadian Al Amin Dhalla through a dating website, the pair spent some time talking and messaging before arranging to meet in early 2009. Immediately hitting it off, the couple spent many weeks dating, enjoying days out and weekends away, as well as staying together at Alison’s Sussex apartment. But little did she know that her fairy-tale relationship was about to take a rather nasty turn that could have ended in tragedy.
It wasn’t until five months later, when Alison brought Dhalla to her mother’s wedding, that something seemed a bit odd. Dhalla had told everyone that he was an orphan who had survived a horrific car crash that had killed his parents. Pam Hewitt, Alison’s mother, had professional experience in mental health and was surprised and alarmed by the sheer lack of emotion Dhalla displayed while recounting the death of his parents. Despite “all the alarm bells ringing,” Pam said nothing about her concerns to Alison, but decided to learn more about Al Dhalla.
Determined to find out who Dhalla really was, Pam hired a private investigator to look into his background, hiding the investigation from Alison. To begin with, the investigator had trouble tracing Dhalla with the information Pam had given him. He needed more official documentation, and Pam was able to get a look at Dhalla’s passport during a family holiday. Immediately it was obvious that Dhalla was lying about his age and being an orphan as his mother was listed as next of kin on his passport.
Pam passed on the information to the PI, who quickly discovered that Dhalla had a criminal record in his native Canada for the violent assault of his uncle and that he had come to the UK almost immediately after. Now certain that her daughter was in danger, Pam confessed all that she had discovered to Alison. At first shocked, Alison later made the decision to end the relationship with Dhalla as soon as possible.
Dhalla, however, had no intention of allowing the relationship to end. Despite Alison’s repeated attempts to force him to move out, it was months before he finally relented and left the apartment for good in 2010. It was then that Dhalla began a systematic campaign of harassment towards Alison and her family. Sending poison pen letters, bombarding Alison with emails, calls and texts, and watching her every second of the day. After taking out a restraining order against him, Dhalla was later arrested for trespass in a field while shooting a cross bow. Menacingly, the police also discovered other weapons but he was eventually released on bail.
Just a few days later, he set Pam’s house on fire, unaware that she and her husband were on holiday in Devon at the time. Later that night, dressed as a doctor, Dhalla got into the hospital where Alison worked with the sole purpose of finding her. Spotted by security guards, the police were called and Dhalla was arrested for suspected arson.
In 2012, Dhalla was convicted of a slew of charges, including arson and harassment, and was sentenced to a minimum of six years in prison. While Pam insists that she ‘did what any caring parent would do,’ her training and resourcefulness may well have saved her daughter’s life.