A creepy stalker managed to avoid capture by the police – by hiding out in his victim’s loft for 10 days.
Ben Gould, 29, subjected 37-year-old Hayley Smith to a year-long campaign of harassment after they met on dating site Plenty of Fish.
The two initially hit it off, and Gould even moved in with Hayley but then his ex got in touch with Hayley to tell her that they had still been living together when he first started dating her.
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Hayley then ended the relationship, but Gould refused to accept her decision.
He bombarded her with texts and calls, some of them apparently threatening her dog and hung around outside her house throwing stones at the windows. But his most shocking act was to hide in the Cornwall mum’s loft for ten days.
Gould was eventually caught and sentenced to 20 weeks in prison, suspended for two years, along with compulsory building better relationships sessions and 150 hours of unpaid work.
Hayley said that the sentence “wasn't enough for what he'd put me and the kids through."
She added: “Psychologically I'll never recover from the ordeal,” she added. “Much more needs to be done to protect women from monsters like him”.
Now the mum of three is speaking out about what she went through.
Hayley said: "Ben made my life hell. Knowing he was hiding in my house for days makes my skin crawl.
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Hayley recalled the moment after she’d ended the relationship when she spotted Gould lurking in her garden.
She said: "He approached the house and then started throwing stones at the window.
"Terrified, I loaded the kids into the car and drove to my mum's house."
When she arrived she received a text from Gould, with several photographs of friends' homes that she had visited.
It was then Hayley realised Gould had been stalking her.
Things escalated from there, with Gould taking up residence in Hayley’s caravan and snatching her dog – later pretending that it had got lost and he had found it.
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On another occasion Hayley’s daughter rang her up and used a code word that let her know there was trouble at home.
She rushed home to find that Gould had been in the house.
Police tried to arrest him but were unable to track him down for several days.
Eventually officers returned and searched Hayley's home again, they discovered where the stalker had been hiding.
She said: "When they told me he'd been hiding in the loft, I couldn't believe it.
"Knowing he'd been so close to me and my kids sent shivers down my spine.
"Thankfully he was arrested then and there."
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