Belfast Telegraph

Former Queen's University academic Patrick Martens behind bars after waging campaign of hatred

Behind the Gothic facade of Queen's University, an eminent psychology expert faced a torrent of threats that his family would be slaughtered in a chilling and remorseless campaign of hatred conducted by a colleague

BY CHRIS KILPATRICK

A former Queen's University academic is behind bars after pleading guilty to waging a vile and hate-filled campaign against a senior member of staff – threatening to "slaughter" him and his family.

Dr Patrick Martens, who was a psychology research fellow at the university, appeared before Craigavon Crown Court yesterday.

The 34-year-old was charged with nine offences including seven threats to kill and two of harassment.

His victims were a well-respected senior academic and his wife, both of whom he threatened to kill in a six-month campaign during which he engaged in more than 500 explicit telephone calls, emails and letters.

He used different identities in an attempt to mask his own in some of the correspondence, the court was told, in which he used graphic and threatening language against the Queen's academic and his family.

During a previous hearing Martens pleaded guilty to eight of the charges, finally entering the same plea to the remaining charge yesterday.

The threats to kill and harassment took place from August 17, 2011 until January 10, 2012.

Martens spoke only once in court, replying "yes" when asked to confirm his identity.

A prosecution lawyer told Judge Patrick Lynch all of the charges "related to a campaign of harassment and threats".

The court was told his victim also acted as a harassment officer at the university, tasked with investigating any such reports made by staff or students.

It was in that role he first encountered Martens, who subsequently began his vendetta against the member of staff and his family.

Martens arrived at Queen's having been disciplined in relation to harassing others at his previous university in England in 2008, the court was told.

It was alleged while there Martens had threatened a number of females, for which he also received a police caution at the time.

The court was told Queen's had concerns when Martens arrived regarding how he would conduct himself given his background in England.

A short time after arriving in Belfast, a complaint was lodged with Queen's by a women who claimed to have been harassed.

His academic victim, as harassment officer, then came into contact with Martens as a result of the allegation.

"Following on from that set of circumstances arising, the defendant then indulged in a campaign of threats," said the prosecutor.

These included telephone calls to his home, emails and letters, many containing threats to kill. Showing one such email to Judge Lynch, the prosecutor said: "You can see the graphic description of the allegation of what was going to be done."

Another email was entitled 'I'm going to slaughter you'.

The prosecutor said the nature of the correspondence was both "offensive and frightening".

Martens, who is half-German and half-English, travelled from his home in Hamburg for yesterday's hearing.

A defence lawyer told the court Marten's mother killed herself in July 2011, which had a profound effect on his mental well-being.

The court was told he has been receiving extensive psychiatric treatment in his homeland over the past year.

The most recent assessments deemed him as not posing a threat to others, the court was told.

He spent eight months as an in-patient at a German hospital, becoming an outpatient in August.

The judge was shown letters from experts at the hospital who have been involved in overseeing Martens' care.

Medical assessments read to the court yesterday claimed Martens suffers from a range of mental disorders including obsessive behaviour, the symptoms of which he has displayed since the age of 14.

According to his defence lawyer, he was previously a patient at the Priory Clinic in London.

Martens is perceived by his doctors as having made improvements since undergoing treatment, but experts warned it could take several years to address all of his mental issues.

His lawyer told Judge Lynch that Martens was "apologetic" and had shown "deep remorse" for his actions.

The court was told he has recently been working with terminally ill children in a Hamburg hospice – a development which concerned Judge Lynch.

He asked if German authorities were aware of the charges faced by Martens and whether they would be notified following conviction and sentencing.

A prosecutor said he needed time to answer those queries.

As a result, Judge Lynch ordered Martens be remanded into custody until next week, when he will sentence him on all nine charges.

The Belfast Telegraph attempted to contact a spokesperson for Queen's University yesterday but was unable to do so.

'I felt so isolated. To this day I still struggle with why he targeted me'

A respected senior member of staff at Queen's University said he was driven from his job as a result of a hate campaign against him and his family by Patrick Martens.

The man, a renowned expert in psychology, took early retirement following a sustained period of harassment at the hands of Dr Martens.

The sinister academic called, emailed and wrote to the victim more than 500 times in a six-month period, during which he threatened to butcher the man's wife and children.

So concerned was the senior staff member that he left his post at the university.

The man, who has requested that his identity remain anonymous, told the Belfast Telegraph his family had endured a nightmare.

He said that when the campaign of hatred was at its worst, he was receiving more than 50 malicious phone calls each day.

Martens, who was a research fellow at Queen's, appeared before Craigavon Crown Court yesterday.

The 34-year-old was charged with nine offences, including seven threats to kill and two of harassment.

He pleaded guilty to all and was remanded in custody until next week, when he will be sentenced.

"It has been incredibly difficult," his victim told the Belfast Telegraph last night. "I'm just glad it's over.

"My concern has always been that it would happen to somebody else."

The victim said Martens – who has battled mental illness for two decades – first threatened his life, before including the man's wife and then his children in the frightening deluge of correspondence.

"I left Queen's over it," he explained. "At the time there were so many emails and phone calls, it was hard. I could always deal with threats to myself but when he involved my wife and our children and had gone to the lengths of discovering their identity, that was very worrying."

The persecuted academic added: "As time went on the threats didn't diminish, they got worse.

"I called his father in Hamburg and said I knew it was Martens. His response was that there were 1.8m people in Hamburg.

"I felt very isolated and all I really wanted was for it to stop. To this day I still struggle with why he targeted me. All we want to do is leave it behind us now."

Speaking on a previous occasion, his wife said the family had endured a "horrendous" time.

Led away in handcuffs, the tormentor with a cocktail of depression and anger issues

On arrival at court, Patrick Martens looked every inch the respected academic he was previously perceived to be.

Dressed in a black suit with an open-neck shirt, the well-groomed Martens exuded an air of confidence at first.

However, just before his case was called, he became increasingly uneasy, nervously pacing the waiting area and glancing warily at others in his vicinity.

The 34-year-old father-of-one travelled from his native Germany for yesterday's hearing.

For much of the past year he has been hospital-bound there, an in-patient at a mental health facility where he has been receiving extensive care for a string of conditions which are said to have blighted him since the age of 14.

Obsessive behaviour, depression and anger issues – a cocktail of ailments he has struggled with for two decades, his lawyer said.

The suicide of his mother in July 2011 tipped him over the edge, it was claimed, and he embarked on a vile campaign of harassment against a much- respected senior academic in his department and his family.

Among the deluge of menacing and explicit phone calls, emails and letters were threats to "slaughter" them. Martens was arrested in England and brought back to Northern Ireland by police on New Year's Eve 2011.

In September of that year he had been barred from setting foot on the Queen's campus following a High Court injunction.

He was also banned from going within five miles of the village where his victims live.

When the allegations first came to light Queen's suspended Martens pending an internal inquiry.

That inquiry centred on serious allegations of intimidation and abuse by Martens, which were described as "sinister and disturbing".

He gained a doctorate in political psychology the previous summer and was part of a Belfast-based team of academics to travel to an international conference in Italy in the same year.

His victim, a respected former senior member of staff at Queen's University, was not at yesterday's hearing. Nor was his wife, whose life was also threatened by Martens in the course of the protracted campaign of harassment and intimidation he waged on the couple.

Ahead of Martens' court appearance they told the Belfast Telegraph they were too afraid to face him.

The couple were described in their absence as being of "some standing" in their fields of research.

A prosecutor said while frightening to anybody receiving such threats as those made by Martens, it may have been more so for the couple, given their comprehensive understanding of the menace behind Martens' correspondence.

Of their backgrounds in behavioural understanding, the prosecutor said it "would do nothing to quell the concerns this type of behaviour would pose to them".

The victims are still coming to terms with their terrifying ordeal.

"They remain vigilant and are worried," confirmed a prosecutor.

Martens was yesterday led from the dock in handcuffs before being escorted to prison, where he will remain until he is sentenced next week.

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