Gogglebox researcher who dressed as a delivery driver to stalk cop ex in 3 month 'surveillance operation' jailed

A GOGGLEBOX researcher has been jailed after stalking her cop ex-boyfriend and his new partner by posing as a delivery driver.

Rachel Barnes, 27, began her “surveillance operation” of PC William Saunders after the pair met for casual sex on dating app Hinge.

The couple met on a few occasions in Swindon, Wilts, but Barnes then discovered the police officer had begun a new relationship.

Barnes began targeting his new girlfriend, police investigator Catherine Baird, in January 2021.

Swindon Crown Court heard that Barnes’ mobile pinged near her home more than 400 times, but it is unclear how many times she visited the property.

She also made false reports to Thames Valley Police that PC Saunders had visited her home and breached Covid regulations.

The court heard that she would pose as a delivery driver to get Miss Baird to open her door, and created fake social media profiles to add PC Saunders, his new partner and her housemate.

Barnes admitted two counts of stalking and one count of stalking causing serious alarm or distress.

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She was today caged for 18 months, after a judge ruled that her offending was “too serious” for a suspended sentence.

Miss Baird told the court that Barnes “must have followed her” to find out where she lived, with the terrified victim forking out hundreds of pounds on CCTV cameras and a ring doorbell.

In a victim impact statement she said: "I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry and scream at this girl to just leave me alone.

"Prior to her inserting herself into my life, I was doing well in work and progressing well.

''This has now stopped and it is all down to her fixated and obsessive behaviour.”

She had to take almost a month off work after her sergeant told her that she was missing her “spark” and could not take her detectives qualification as a result.

She added: "The whole ordeal of fearing my stalker knew my address caused a decline in my mental health and in turn, it affected my performance at work.

''I have to be careful not to accidentally share my location on any phone apps… I cannot even join simple village Facebook groups for fear of her tracking me down.

"This girl's affected my mental health, given me trauma, affected my career, hindered my professional development opportunities and affected my ability to participate in my master's degree.

'BIZARRE SITUATION'

"The whole situation is just bizarre, but unfortunately, I know how strange some girls can be when they get jealous.

"I put it down to what this is – jealousy that I was with Will and she was not."

Barnes breached a stalking protection order four times several months after committing the offences, and was handed a £100 fine.

She visited Gablecross Police Station on several occasions, and was convicted of drink driving after an officer confronted her in the visitor car park.

Judge Peter Crabtree OBE described her stalking as having a "high degree of planning" with the "intention to cause very real distress".

Sentencing Barnes he said: "I am satisfied, given the assessment of a pre-sentence report, that imprisonment is not required to protect the public.

"Additionally, there is evidence you present a realistic prospect of rehabilitation.

"The key question is whether the offences are simply too serious that only a period of immediate custody can be imposed, custody without suspension.

"In my view this is a very serious case where there are three victims of your stalking, all of whom have suffered significant harm or very significant distress."

Barnes was also hit with an indefinite restraining order, banning her from contacting her victims for life.

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