Stalker who met victim on Plenty of Fish hid in his loft for 10 days before police found him

An obsessive stalker bombarded his former lover with text messages as he hid in his loft for 10 days before officers finally found him.

Ben Gould, 29, from Cambourne, Cornwall, terrorized his ex-girlfriend Hayley Smith, 37, for a year after the pair first crossed paths on dating site Plenty of Fish.

Although their relationship initially seemed rosy, Ms Smith broke off the dark romance after discovering dog-loving Gould was still living with another woman when they first met.

Gould then launched his obsessive campaign of harassment, including following Ms Smith when she was staying with friends and families, bombarding her with texts and calls and even breaking into her caravan.

Feeling helpless, she alerted the police, who said they could not locate the elusive Gould and issued a warrant for his arrest.

Officers still couldn’t find him even after he messaged Ms Smith saying he was ‘watching’ her. It wasn’t until 10 days later, when he was finally pulled from his creepy hiding place – the loft of his house – that he was arrested.

Ben Gould, 29, from Cambourne, Cornwall, (left) terrorized his ex-girlfriend Hayley Smith, 37, for a year after the pair first crossed paths on dating site Plenty of Fish

The couple first met on dating site Plenty of Fish, where Ms Smith was impressed that Gould was also a father and dog lover.

They had their first date in a pub in 2018 and immediately hit it off.

Hayley said: “Things moved quickly and soon after I introduced Ben to my kids. He was great with them and they loved him.

After moving in together in June 2019, Gould’s ex sent a message to Ms Smith revealing he was actually living with her when the couple first met online.

Hayley revealed she was heartbroken to hear this and confronted Gould who denied everything, spelling the end of their brief fling.

But Gould wasn’t ready to give up, and over the next week he begged for forgiveness and sent dozens of text messages.

His campaign of harassment escalated when Ms Smith realized he had been watching and throwing rocks at her living room window while she had the television on.

Terrified of what might happen, she gathered her children’s belongings and drove to her mother’s house, but Gould sparked another scare when he sent pictures of his friend’s homes where she had been. stayed.

Hayley revealed she was heartbroken to learn Gould was living with an ex when they first met, so she called it quits on their budding relationship in 2019

Hayley revealed she was heartbroken to learn Gould was living with an ex when they first met, so she called it quits on their budding relationship in 2019

At one point, he even texted her asking where her Rottweiler, Odin, was. Hayley later accused him of stealing the dog, but police never charged him for the alleged offence.

After this latest terrifying incident, Hayley blocked Gould but he continued to call her using unknown or blocked numbers.

Hayley says: “One evening, I gathered some things and went to put them in the trailer.

“But as I opened the door, I saw Ben sitting on the bunk bed.

“Panic, I yelled at him to get out. I grabbed the children and put them in the car, running.

The culmination of Gould’s months of torment came when he sent chilling text messages telling Hayley he was watching her from inside his own home.

The police were called but when they searched the house, Gould was nowhere to be found. A few minutes later, Hayley received a text from her.

She says: ‘Ben texted me saying he was watching me. I was convinced he was in the house.

“But officers couldn’t locate him.”

For the next ten days, Gould continued to message Hayley, with the police returning and eventually finding him over a week later hiding in his loft.

The police returned and searched Hayley’s home again.

Hayley said: “Knowing that he had been so close to me and my children sent shivers down my spine.

“Fortunately, he was arrested on the spot.”

Hayley's torment finally ended in January 2020 when Gould pleaded guilty to harassment at Bodmin Magistrates' Court and received a suspended prison sentence

Hayley’s torment finally ended in January 2020 when Gould pleaded guilty to harassment at Bodmin Magistrates’ Court and received a suspended prison sentence

Hayley’s torment finally ended in January 2020 when Gould pleaded guilty to criminal harassment at Bodmin Magistrates’ Court.

Judges gave him a 20-week suspended sentence and a three-year restraining order. He was also told to pay a victim surcharge of £122.

Hayley says: “It wasn’t enough for what he put me and the kids through.

“Psychologically, I will never recover from the ordeal. Much more needs to be done to protect women from monsters like him.

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