Accused Stalkers Ordered to Stay Away from Thorpe

By Stephen J. Thomas

SYDNEY, October 30. CHAMPION swimmer Ian Thorpe has taken out restraining orders against two Sydney people who he believes are a threat to his safety.

Vernon Ray Hopkins, 32, and Taylor Martin, a 27-year-old exotic dancer, are prevented from coming within 20 meters of Thorpe or the pool where he trains.

The pair had earlier been charged with stalking Thorpe in February, after a number of notes appeared on his car's windscreen while he trained at Sutherland pool in Sydney.

The charges were dropped yesterday.

One note told him not to wear quarter-length pants and was signed "The Phantom" and another asked Thorpe to date a particular woman.

In a brief statement, Thorpe said the events had been very distressing for him and his family and that he wanted to put the matter behind him and concentrate on his swimming career.

"At a time when all of us have our families' and our own security uppermost on our minds, none of us can be too careful," Thorpe said.