Andrew Hunter, 41, from Stockton (pictured outside court), stalked his wife with a tracking device
A ‘controlling’ father who stalked his wife with a tracking device after he discovered she had been meeting a man through an online dating site has been slapped with a restraining order.
Andrew Hunter, 41, hid a listening device in his partner’s handbag after he began to suspect she was having an affair.
A Teesside court heard how Hunter began demeaning and controlling his wife of five years after he discovered she had been meeting a man through the dating site Plenty of Fish.
Magistrates hit him with a restraining order banning him from contacting the victim, from which he is now divorced, for 18 months.
He was also issued an 18-month community order and ordered to pay £485 costs at a hearing on Tuesday.
Mounting debts and domestic conflict had begun to take their toll of the couple’s relationship, Lynne Dalton, prosecuting, said at previous hearing.
AS his suspicions grew Hunter, of Birkdale Road, Stockton, began to control her movements and actions.
She said: ‘He began insulting her and demeaning her on a daily basis. He ground her down to when she had no self-confidence.’
Then, in January last year, the victim signed up to Plenty of Fish, an online dating service.
Part of the site, which had more than 100 million users in 2015, invites married men and women to find extra marital partners.
Mrs Hunter became friendly with a man and in February they began exchanging messages.
But by this time her husband had become suspicious.
He placed a tracking device in the boot of her car and followed her to one of her illicit liaisons, this time in Stokesley, North Yorkshire.
Hunter had also placed a microphone inside the lining of her handbag, and had been listening in on her conversations.
The father discovered his former wife had been meeting a man through an online dating site
‘He said it was a listening device which he had placed there and he had been listening to everything she had been doing in the meantime,’ said Mrs Dalton In December.
At that hearing he pleaded guilty to a single charge of stalking.
He also admitted to following and taking pictures of her when she met another man between April 15 and June 6 last year.
But Simon Walker, defending, said Hunter’s actions were understandable given the stretched condition of his marriage.
He told the hearing that, despite his client pleading guilty under the advice of a different solicitor, he disagreed with the Crown’s version of events, adding he was astonished the case had ever found its way into a criminal court.
‘All of what I’ve heard might be explained by a typical breakdown of a marriage,’ he said.
‘This man has never been in trouble before in his life and never will be again. His actions can be explained by the stress and heartbreak of having to go through a marriage break-up.
The court met on Tuesday for a Newton Hearing to resolve disputed factual issues around the case however this did not go ahead after his former wife did not attend the court and the two parties agreed the relevant facts earlier on the morning.