A woman council worker has won £18k in damages after bosses failed to protect her from a litter picker colleague who repeatedly harassed her and once threatened her with his rubbish stick. 

Lynne Poustie claims her complaints were dismissed by managers at Midlothian Council and she was made to feel as if she was "exaggerating" after creep Alexander Ritchie confessed his love for her in 2011. 

When she told Ritchie she was happily married, he suddenly turned nasty and began threatening and abusing her. 

He called her a "fucking cow" and spread malicious false rumours about 45-year-old Ms Poustie. 

Even after she complained about his behaviour, Ritchie was allowed to continue working overtime in the same area as her. 

He also waited for her outside her office at finishing time and threatened her with his litter picker stick. 

Ms Poustie, from Dalkeith, Midlothian, took her case to an employment tribunal, where the judge Murdo McLeod ordered the council to pay out £18,000. 

She said things "spiralled out of control" after she spurned Ritchie's advances and it left her fearing going to work. 

Ms Poustie added: "He was just a work colleague, we had everyday chit-chat, 'hi, how are you doing' - that kind of thing. 

"Then one day he told me he loved me. I was so shocked, I just didn't know where it had come from. 

"I told him I was happily married with children and I made it clear I just didn't think of him in that way at all. 

"He then took things to the extreme. He obviously didn't handle the rejection well and things turned really nasty. It all just spiralled out of control." 

She complained to her bosses, telling them she was too scared to go to work due to the abuse she was receiving and the council agreed to move Ritchie to Bonnyrigg. 

But they still let him do overtime in Dalkeith, where he still came into contact with Ms Poustie. 

He would also turn up outside her office at Midlothian House at her finishing time several times a week, where he would verbally abuse her. 

Creepy Ritchie then started spreading false rumours that they had had a sexual affair and she had complained about him because he had called it off. 

Ms Poustie said she felt the council did not take appropriate action or take her allegations seriously because they started to believe the rumours. 

She said: "I was scared to go into my work. I was also scared because he had told other people he knew where I lived. We installed security cameras and my children were not allowed to answer the door to anyone. 

"Throughout it all my employers made me feel as if I was a little girl who was exaggerating. I think when someone behaves in that way and it is consistently happening, then it should be a sackable offence." 

Mr Ritchie was eventually convicted of harassment and threatening behaviour at Edinburgh Sheriff Court at the end of 2015. 

But he still works for the council and does overtime in Dalkeith, where Ms Poustie continues to work.