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

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An obsessive stalker texted his former lover as he lurked in her loft for 10 days before police finally found him.

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

Despite their relationship initially looking rosy, Mrs Smith broke off the brooding romance after discovering that dog-loving Gould was still living with another woman when they first met.

Gould then launched his obsessive campaign of stalking, which included tracking Mrs. Smith while she was staying with friends and family, bombarding her with text messages and phone calls, and even breaking into her caravan.

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

Officers still couldn’t find him, even after he messaged Ms. Smith that he was “watching her.” It wasn’t until 10 days later, when he was finally removed from his chilling hideout – the attic of her house – that he was arrested.

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

The pair first hooked up on the dating website Plenty of Fish, where Mrs. Smith was impressed by the fact that Gould was also a father and a dog lover.

They went on their first date in a pub in 2018 and we hit it off right away.

Hayley said, “It happened quickly and shortly after I introduced Ben to my kids. He was great with them and they adored him.”

After moving in together in June 2019, Gould sent an ex-message to Ms Smith revealing that he had lived with her when the couple first met online.

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

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

His stalking campaign took off when Mrs. Smith realized he’d been watching and threw rocks at her living room window while she had the TV on.

Terrified of what might happen, she gathered her children’s belongings and drove to her mother’s house, but Gould sparked fear again when he sent photos of her friend’s houses where she had stayed.

Hayley revealed she was 'heartbroken' to learn that Gould was living with an ex when they first met, so she broke off their budding relationship in 2019

Hayley revealed she was ‘heartbroken’ to learn that Gould was living with an ex when they first met, so she broke off their budding relationship in 2019

At one point, he even messaged her asking where her Rottweiler, Odin, was. Hayley later accused him of stealing the dog, but police never charged him with this alleged offense.

After that last terrifying incident, Hayley blocked Gould, but he kept calling her from unknown or blocked numbers.

Hayley says: ‘One evening I gathered up some things and went to put them in the caravan.

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

In a panic, I yelled at him to get out. I grabbed the kids and put them in the car and ran.’

The climax of Gould’s months of torment came when he sent creepy text messages telling Hayley that he was watching her from her own home.

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

She says, “Ben messaged me that he was looking at me. I was convinced he was in the house.

“But officers couldn’t find him.”

For the next ten days, Gould continued to message Hayley, with the police returning and eventually finding him in her pen more than a week later.

The police returned and searched Hayley’s house again.

Hayley said, “Knowing he’d been so close to me and my kids sent shivers down my spine.

“Fortunately, he was arrested then and there.”

Hayley's torment finally came to an end in January 2020 when Gould pleaded guilty to stalking at Bodmin Magistrates' Court and was given a suspended prison sentence.

Hayley’s torment finally came to an end in January 2020 when Gould pleaded guilty to stalking at Bodmin Magistrates’ Court and was given a suspended prison sentence.

Hayley’s torment finally came to an end in January 2020 when Gould pleaded guilty to stalking at Bodmin Magistrates’ Court.

The judges gave him a 20-week suspended sentence and a three-year restraining order. He was also told to pay a casualty allowance of £122.

Hayley says, “It wasn’t enough for what he did to me and the kids.

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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