I stalked my ex-wife – I’d prowl house for hours & slept in woods to stay close, but arrest made me realise I was sick

THE moment Tom realised he'd been obsessively stalking his ex-wife was when police read out her victim impact statement, which carried the chilling phrase: "I'm in genuine fear for my life".

Despite “incessantly bombarding" the mother of his four children with calls and texts for months and "prowling" her house for hours at a time, the 29-year-old says he didn’t realise what he was doing was wrong.

Now, having been given a suspended sentence and ordered to attend two years of weekly counselling – which he's completed – Tom explains why he felt compelled to make his ex-wife’s life hell when their relationship broke down after 12 years.

With most stalkers reoffending once they’re released from prison, Tom also reveals why he believes counselling is the way forward.

Prowling house for hours

At the height of Tom’s stalking, he would visit his ex-wife’s house several times a day to make sure she wasn’t with anyone else.

“There was a time when I saw another guy go into the house,” he tells Stacey Dooley in a new BBC Three documentary.

“I proceeded to, what I can only call prowl the house for two-and-a-half hours.

“I would try to get close to the house to hear what was being said, figure out whether there was a relationship there.

"I’d go up to the doors and windows to listen.



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“Eventually they saw me and I bolted to the woods to hide.”

Tom, whose identity is concealed in the show, would regularly hide out there, sometimes going days without eating and drinking properly.

He recalls: “When they caught me, I’d spent three days there trying to figure out how to explain why I'd done what I'd done."

'Feared for her life'

Tom had no idea his behaviour was stalking until he was in police custody and heard his ex's police statements.

He recalls: “She said, ‘I’ve never felt this way before but I’m in genuine fear for my life. I’m incessantly bombarded with calls and texts.’

“When I was messaging her, you don’t think of anything else, you think of yourself, not how she’s feeling or anybody else."

In 2018, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust launched a campaign to treat stalkers, rather than put them in jail, to stop them reoffending.

I would try to get close to the house to hear what was being said… I’d go up to the doors and windows to listen

A spokesperson in the documentary says: “Criminal perpetrators don’t stop stalking with a criminal sentence alone.

“Their sentencing is usually relatively short, and they end up reoffending, either with the same victim or someone else. 

“We try to think about understanding the behaviour, and having empathy but not necessarily sympathy.”

Tom has now finished his two years of treatment and sees his ex regularly, due to the fact they share custody of their kids.

He's worked out why he behaved how he did, explaining: "I felt like I wasn’t good enough right from when I was kid. My parents were hard workers, and I had au pairs and never really saw them.

"I went straight from relying on them to relying on this woman to fix all my problems.

"When that broke up, all I could think was that there was someone else, or someone else giving her what I can’t."

He now takes precautions to ensure he doesn’t reoffend.

“I don’t step in the house if I can help it,” he says. “I watch my son go through the gate, see the door close and that’s it.

We try to think about understanding the behaviour, and having empathy but not necessarily sympathy

"It’s for my own benefit, to make sure I don’t interpret anything she does or says wrong, like if she’s nice to me, or getting on with me, she likes me.

“And with anything that shows me when someone’s online or someone’s read something, I don’t have it on, so I can’t obsess about whether they’ll answer or not. They’ll answer in their own time.”

Tom adds that he won't know if he's completely recovered until he's been in another relationship.

"I don’t believe I’m a danger but for me to be entirely comfortable in saying I’m completely recovered… until I’m tested I’ll never truly know," he says.

He's adamant a prison sentence wouldn't have stopped him reoffending.

"I'd have been in prison churning it over, with, potentially, no outside help," he argues.

"Would that have been enough to stop me doing it again? Probably not."

Stalked by OnlyFans follower

While over half of stalking crimes are committed by an ex-partner, and the majority are by someone the victim knows, 10 per cent of stalkers are complete strangers to the victim.

OnlyFans star Abigail Furness, 21, shares her stalker ordeal on the documentary.

One of her followers, 37-year-old Jamie Spears, broke into her home, slept in her shed and even ambushed her on holiday in Ibiza over the course of a year.

She says: "Jamie made my life a living hell. For a long time I lived in constant fear that he was watching me.

"I felt like I was in a horror movie, constantly fearing someone was going to jump out at me."

The nightmare began in June 2020 when dancer Abigail visited her parents in Kent for her 20th birthday.

Jamie made my life a living hell. For a long time I lived in constant fear that he was watching me

She received visits from pals dropping off presents all day but was left baffled when a man she didn't recognise showed up with a bottle of Champagne.

Abigail assumed he was someone she went to school with and "reluctantly agreed" when he asked for a hug and a selfie.

But she was left horrified when she opened the card, signed "JP Master" – the name of one of her OnlyFans subscribers.

After she confronted him, he promised it wouldn’t happen again.

But days later, Abigail was shopping at home in Brighton with a friend when she spotted Spears on the high street.

'Petrified and felt sick'

She ran into a shop and hid but relentless Spears told Abigail he loved her and wanted to be with her.

Even when the cashier booted him out of the shop, Spears continued to follow Abigail until she begged a group of men to scare him away.

Abigail says: "I was petrified and felt sick.”

She tried putting the ordeal to the back of her mind and flew to Ibiza for a three-month work trip with her friend later that week.

But Abigail, who worked on the party island as a dancer and fire-breather, was terrified when Spears messaged her two days into the trip saying he was also there.

She explains: "I was terrified. Eventually my friends calmed me down and convinced me to go out for drinks to take my mind off it.

“Later that night, I saw Jamie stood outside the bar we were in, looking at me from the window.

“After sneaking outside the back to go home, he followed me to my holiday house."

I felt like I was in a horror movie, constantly fearing someone was going to jump out at me

Spears eventually left Ibiza when confronted by Abigail's friends. But he ramped up his stalking campaign in September 2020 when Abigail returned to the UK to start her third year of university.

Chillingly her housemates spotted Spears peeking through Abigail's bedroom window at her university home in Brighton.

The obsessed fan also began bombarding her with messages despite Abigail blocking him online.

She says she was left "constantly looking over my shoulder" after Spears started to follow her every day – leaving Abigail too scared to leave the house.

The stalker even started wearing hats and disguises while following Abigail.

How you can get help

Women’s Aid has this advice for victims and their families:

  • Always keep your phone nearby.
  • Get in touch with charities for help, including the Women’s Aid live chat helpline and services such as SupportLine.
  • If you are in danger, call 999.
  • Familiarise yourself with the Silent Solution, reporting abuse without speaking down the phone, instead dialing “55”.
  • Always keep some money on you, including change for a pay phone or bus fare.
  • If you suspect your partner is about to attack you, try to go to a lower-risk area of the house – for example, where there is a way out and access to a telephone.
  • Avoid the kitchen and garage, where there are likely to be knives or other weapons. Avoid rooms where you might become trapped, such as the bathroom, or where you might be shut into a cupboard or other small space.

If you are a ­victim of domestic abuse, SupportLine is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6pm to 8pm on 01708 765200. The charity’s email support ­service is open weekdays and weekends during the crisis – [email protected]

Women’s Aid provides a live chat service – available weekdays from 8am-6pm and weekends 10am-6pm.

You can also call the freephone 24-hour ­National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

The final straw came in February this year when Abigail's housemates saw Spears lurking in their garden shed.

Abigail called the police and a Stalking Protection Order was made against him.

She says: "I thought it would stop him, but two weeks later I saw him in the street, hiding behind cars and following me. I called the police and he was arrested again.”

Spears appeared at Lewes Crown Court in April 2021 where he pleaded guilty to breaching the Stalking Protection Order.

He was handed an eight month suspended sentence and an eight-week stalking prevention programme, due to the fact he was diagnosed with autism.

Finally jailed

However, he contacted her again just five months later, breathing down the phone heavily.

Spears has now been jailed for 14 months after he pleaded guilty to breaching the Stalking Protection Order again this month.

Abigail says: "Now that Jamie is finally behind bars I feel safe. I’m working on moving forward with my life and I hope I never see him again.”

She admits she feels sorry for her stalker, especially after his autism diagnosis.

"I feel bad that I’m the one putting him into prison, I feel guilty," Abigail confesses. "I wish there was a solution.

"I’m just worried… because I don't know what he could do. I don't know him. He lived in my shed. How far was he going to push it?

"I feel bad for him but I hate him so much."

Stacey Dooley: Stalkers will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer at 6pm on January 19th.

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