Former police officer fitted tracker to ex-wife’s car and removed password on her phone to go through her messages

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A former police officer became so jealous and possesive of his wife he checked her phone messages and even emojis as well planting a GPS tracker in the boot of her car.

Ex-community bobby Mark Howell-Walmsley married Sharon McCaig two years after they first started dating but a court heard there had been a “series of issues” about his controlling behaviour.

The 58-year-old told his then wife to remove the password on her phone and demanded photographic proof when she visited her elderly mother.

Miss McCaig said her ex became so possessive and controlling she couldn’t sleep at night.

“It was just awful. I felt completely trapped, she previously told a jury at Mold Crown Court. “I was very anxious and became very scared of him.”

Jurors were told the pair became and in item in 2015 before tying the knot in May 2017.

Miss McCaig, who ran a small shop as an artist in Llanberis, Gwynedd, said as time went on though Howell-Walmsley became more irrational.

She said: “He wanted to know everything I did on my phone. I had nothing to hide.”



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Eventually Miss McCaig had told her husband she wanted a divorce. But in March last year he had turned up at a Tesco supermarket at Bangor.

She hid in the cafe and called the police who found Howell-Walmsley in the car park. The defendant said he had followed his wife, because he thought she was having an affair, and officers found a GPS tracker in the boot.

A court heard he had planted the device in the vehicle about a month earlier because he was looking for proof that she was “cheating”.

Howell-Walmsley previously denied controlling or coercive behaviour, but later changed his plea to guilty shortly after his trial got underway earlier this year.

At a sentencing hearing On Thursday, June 10, prosecuting counsel Simon Mintz said the defendant’s behaviour had a damaging effect on his ex-wife’s health.

Mr Mintz added: “The last few years have been the worst of her life.”

Defence barrister Elen Owen told the court Howell-Walmsley had significant mental health problems. And Ms Owen added her client had admitted what he had done was wrong and argued that the defendant was going through an “ongoing, very expensive, acrimonious divorce proceedings”.

She urged the judge not to order her client not be made to wear an electronic tag as part of his sentence – saying the defendant nowsold expensive climbing boots and it would cause him difficulties and embarrassment in his job.

“This is a very draconian step,” Ms Owen argued. “There are many other ways the probation service could keep tab on his movements, if they need.”

There is help and support for victims of abuse.

Support is available in Welsh and English and a lot of the time is there 24 hours a day.

In an emergency, call 999 but there are a number of support agencies there to help:

Live Fear Free helpline – 24 hour support

Confidential support and information for anyone experiencing sexual violence, domestic abuse or violence against women in Wales, and for family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf. Phone support available in Welsh, English and any other languages.

Freephone T: 0808 8010800

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Text support 24/7: 078600 77 333

Live chat 24hrs: www.livefearfree.gov.wales

Bawso 24hr helpline

Providing specialist services for BME communities.

T: 0800 731 8147 W: bawso.org.uk

Suzy Lamplugh Trust National Stalking Helpline

Advice and help if you are a victim of stalking.

Freephone T: 0808 802 0300

Refuge

The charity runs a 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline

Freephone T: 0808 2000 247

NSPCC FGM helpline

Call the FGM helpline if you’re worried a child is at risk of, or has had, FGM.

T: 0800 028 3550 E: fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk

Forced Marriage Unit helpline

Advice and support to victims of forced marriage.

T: 020 7008 0151

Modern slavery helpline

To report a suspicion, get help or seek advice or information.

T: 0800 0121 700 W: modernslaveryhelpline.org

Respect phoneline

For anyone concerned about their violence and/or abuse towards a partner or ex-partner

T: 0808 802 4040 E: info@respectphoneline.org.uk W: respectphoneline.org.uk

NSPCC helpline

The NSPCC helpline is staffed by trained professionals who can provide expert advice and support to adults with a child welfare concern. Adult victims of non-recent abuse can also get in touch for support.

T: 0800 800 5000 E: help@nspcc.org.uk W: nspcc.org.uk

NSPCC’s Childline service

Children and young people can contact Childline 365 days a year about anything that may be worrying them no matter how big or small it may seem.

T: 0800 1111 W: childline.org.uk

Judge David Hale imposed a 15 months suspended jail term on the defendant.

He said: “As a mature man with the life experiences you have had, the last thing you should be doing is finding yourself having pleaded guilty to a serious offence such as this and facing a prison sentence.

“You have harmed her. You have seriously upset her, frightened her and worried her by your totally unnecessary conduct. This had all the makings of a happy relationship but you became so suspicious, so controlling, that it had to fail.”

Howell-Walmsley, of Capel Curig, Snowdonia, was told told he was given a suspended sentenced because of “the more positive side” of his character.

Judge Hale added: “I am not going to include the tag because I am not sure the suggested reason for it took into account the problems it would cause you in your employment.”

A restraining order was also made.



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