A love cheat who hid in his ex-partner’s loft and drilled a peephole to spy on her in her bedroom has been convicted of stalking.
Engineer Mark Thomas was busted when she found a pile of dust on her bedroom floor – with a small spyhole hole in the ceiling above.
She called in police who found him hiding in the attic.
Thomas, 45, made a gesture towards the tormented mum as he was led from the court yesterday after he was given a suspended jail sentence.
Preston Crown Court was told the woman had ended their seven-and-a-half year relationship in September because Thomas, of Caunce Street, Blackpool, cheated on her.
On one occasion, his victim woke in the night in her Fleetwood home to find him sitting on her bed and going through her mobile phone.
Prosecuting, Paul Cummings said: “She told him to leave the family home when she discovered he had been involved in a relationship with another woman, unknown to her. He then agreed to leave the address.”
On October 1, the mum had put her children in bed and gone to sleep - but woke half an hour later to Thomas sitting at the end of her bed.
Mr Cummings added: “He was looking at her mobile phone and asking questions about who she had been texting.
“She got up and took the phone off him and told him to go. At that point he left the bedroom and she fell asleep again.
“Some time later she woke and found he was back in the bedroom - he was crying and he asked if he would be allowed to stay. She agreed and he remained in the house overnight.
“At 6am she was asking him to leave and he asked if he could stop and see the children. She agreed and he helped the children get ready for school. He later sent a text message apologising for his earlier behaviour.”
Later the same day, after the victim finished work she returned home to find a pile of dust on the floor in her bedroom.
Mr Cummings added: “She then noticed a small hole in the ceiling.
“She came out to see if anyone was in the loft but noticed the loft hatch was closed and appeared to be locked.
“She was still unhappy with the situation and called a friend, who told her to call the police.
“The police went into the loft and then of course found the defendant hidden in the loft.
“He was arrested and as he was being taken away he said: ‘Don’t let them do this or I will go to jail.”
He was released on bail but within weeks had breached a condition not to contact her and was remanded into custody.
Paul Robinson, defending, said: “It’s clear from the documents and from his letter that at the time of this offence he was suffering serious mental health problems, depression, anxiety, caused not just by the termination of his relationship but certain underlying difficulties he had experienced in life which he hadn’t really come to terms with.”
He admitted stalking her between between October 1 and 28 was given a restraining order and a six month jail term, suspended for two years.
Recorder Neville Biddle said: “Your relationship broke down, but you found it difficult to accept, and in fact you acted in what I can only describe as a bizarre way.
“Most bizarrely you found your way into the attic secretly so you could spy on her and keep watch.”
He agreed to suspend his six month jail term for two years and imposed a 40 day rehabilitation activity.
Thomas was also given a five year restraining order.
Two charges relating to intimidating the woman will lie on the file.
The case came just weeks after National Statistics data showed in Blackpool reported stalking and harassment offences have tripled since 2015-16. Figures show 2,063 cases of stalking, harassment or malicious communications were reported in the resort between July 2017-June 2018.
Of the three crimes in the figures, stalking was the most serious, and can include following someone, repeatedly going uninvited to their home and monitoring their use of phones and computers.
There are several plans in the pipeline to tackle stalkers, including a Stalking Protection Bill, which will introduce new civil Stalking Protection Orders which will see perpetrators jailed up to five years if they breach their order.