Man behaved “inappropriately” towards teenage girl who walked his dogs, stalked her and sent threatening messages

A stalker told a woman who used to work for him as a dog walker: “I will be your worst nightmare” after tracking her down through her business.

The victim first met Neil Smith when she was 15 and he was around 49 and she worked for him. A court heard he was said to have “behaved inappropriately towards her” and she left the dog walking job. He then harassed her via Facebook, text messages and phone calls and she reported him to the police.

He was convicted of harassment in 2015 and fined and given a three-year restraining order. She heard no more of him until February last year, when he embarked on a campaign of stalking towards her.

Caroline McGurk, prosecuting, told Newcastle Crown Court: “He clearly spent a considerable amount of time researching her lifestyle. He said he was aware of her new address, the identity of her new boyfriend and her mother’s current illness.”

Smith sent messages to the victim from numerous fake emails addresses which were made up of derogatory terms about the woman. He made allegations about her teenage sexual behaviour and threatened to tell her partner.

Smith wrote that he was “so glad I’ve found out where you are living now, it’s taken me a few years”, made reference to her poorly mother and said “I will be your worst nightmare”.

In a victim impact statement, the woman said she fears physical violence from Smith and is scared to go out and suffers panic attacks and struggles to sleep. She said her mental health has been affected by what happened and she was put on medication and referred for therapy.

She added that she has had to install a security system at home and said her mum is now terminally ill, adding: “It breaks my heart that I have to use my precious time with my mother discussing this investigation.”

Smith, 60, of Glenhurst Drive, Chapel Park, Newcastle, pleaded guilty to stalking and was sentenced to nine months suspended for 18 months and given a ten-year restraining order. Recorder Christopher Williams said it was “fixated, obsessive behaviour” which caused some fear and distress and caused her to change her lifestyle.

Brian Hegarty, defending, said Smith has had mental health issues for 20 years and had been told his wife was filing for divorce. He added that the victim has a business which has a social media presence which revealed personal information about her and that she runs the same type of business as Smith.

Mr Hegarty said: “It’s online offending only. He is a man who would struggle in custody.”