'Extreme stalker' hacked into woman's CCTV system to spy on her

A stalker who hacked into his victim’s security cameras, sent her hundreds of abusive messages and researched how to track her and get into her accounts has been jailed.

George Coughlan, 33, sent his victim a video of her relaxing in her own living room. After he was caught, police found another 67 other videos downloaded from her CCTV. The stalker had also used 61 social media accounts to harass the woman with abuse and threats. 

He then arrested in February and later jailed in for 21 months. Wolverhampton Court heard how he had told his victim in one message: ‘I will [make] it my dying breath to [make your] life end too. And his.

‘On the baby’s graves [and my dad’s] grave. That’s how much I mean it now. F***in dead to me. [And you] will be f***ed soon now. U will [have nothing].’

During their investigation, police found Coughlan, from Wolverhampton, had searched phrases such as ‘log into iCloud without verification’ and ‘free mobile phone tracker without user knowing’ on the internet.

He had also researched phone spyware to track SMS messages, calls, social apps and GPS movements and the name of his victim and her partner. 

After the victim blocked his social media account he used the profile name ‘whymekitworse’ to tell her: ‘[You have] to do it don’t ya. Ok [you] blocked me once that’s it. I’m [taking it] to the next step. Expect a visit. I [ain’t] even [saying when].’

Coughlan pleaded guilty to stalking, involving serious alarm and distress, and was handed a five-year restraining order, banning him from contacting the victim, on top of his jail sentence. 

West Midlands Police Public Protection Unit’s Inspector Cate Webb-Jones said: ‘Stalking is a serious crime, an invasion of someone’s privacy, and as we’ve seen with this case can result in a significant jail term.

‘Coughlan went to extreme lengths to exert control and intrude on his victim’s life. It was hugely upsetting and she was living day by day in fear. It’s simply not acceptable.

‘Social media and easily accessible technology, such as spyware to track mobile phones, is giving stalkers more tools to harass victims and potentially put them in more danger.

‘In the last year (April 19 to March 20) we saw reports of stalking and harassment rise by almost a third. Much of that is online offending and that trend continued during lockdown as people spent more time on social media.

‘We don’t differentiate between people abusing or harassing others face-to-face or online: it’s still an offence and we will take action. We wish the victim well as she continues to rebuild her life following this traumatic experience.’ 

There were 1,625 people stalked in 2019, of whome 1,065 were female and 610 were male, the Crime Survey for England and Wales states.

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