‘Creepy stalker’ caught trying to remove listening devices planted in neighbour’s home

‘Creepy stalker’ caught trying to remove listening devices planted in neighbour’s home

A woman has told how her “creepy stalker ” neighbour was caught on camera trying to remove listening devices he planted in her house.

Debbie Wearing Jones, 64, lived in Birmingham but trusted her neighbour and his wife to feed her cats while she went away to see her partner in Nottingham each week.

It was only when Debbie found a listening device taped to the underside of her coffee table and another behind the headboard of her bed that she realised someone was listening to her.

“Panicky and upset” at her discovery, Debbie bought some cameras and, knowing the stalker would need to come in to get the recordings to play them back, decided to try and catch whoever had planted the devices.

She then told her neighbours she would be out from Thursday afternoon until Friday morning, and headed off.

Debbie watched in horror as the cameras revealed it was her neighbour, William Nolan, abusing her trust by installing the listening devices.

The 59-year-old was caught on camera coming to the property to try to collect the recording kit.

The grandma watched the footage back and caught Nolan in her home, retrieving the spyware recorders, and called the police.

Former security guard Nolan admitted stalking without fear, alarm or distress and was jailed for 15 weeks at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on May 25, 2020.

The judge described the case as one of the most serious stalking offences he had ever seen.

Debbie, who is now speaking out to raise awareness of the seriousness of stalking, said: “I felt totally violated – Bill’s trade is CCTV and security and things like that so that was also worrying.

“To this day I worry thinking was there anything else planted? I still don’t know whether there is.”

She added: “I want to make people aware that you can’t trust anyone – after being neighbours for 30 years, being widowed, and then him doing this to me.”

The retired practice manager lived next door to fathe\r-of-four and grandfather-of-two Nolan, in Erdington, Birmingham, for about 30 years.

She said they were “normal, friendly neighbours”, would chat regularly and trusted each other. ”I’d actually always thought myself lucky to have him as a neighbour,” she said.

”It felt good having long-term friendly neighbours who I could trust. It meant a lot to me having that support network after being widowed.

“They were lovely people, too. His wife had always been the chattier of the two but Bill was a lovely, polite man, if a little shy. Of course, I know differently now.”

Debbie was having dinner at her home with her partner, 64, when he found a black plastic box under the table, held by double sided tape, on November 7, 2020.

She initially thought it might be one of her grandson’s toys, but soon realised it was spyware following an internet search.

It had a microphone and an on/off switch, with a port where a USB cable could be connected, in order to access the recorded audio data.

Debbie said: “I was so upset and so panicky but my main concern was were they live listening devices, but we found they were recorders.

”I felt totally violated. Then we thought how’s it got there? Who’s put it there? And the next thing we thought was are there any more?

“We took the pictures off the wall, turned the settee upside down and looked in every foreseeable place in the living room.”

They went upstairs to the bedroom and, sure enough, found one stuck behind the headboard on the bed.

She said: “We slept very little and thought whoever planted them needs to come back to get them so you can play back via the laptop. We thought we need to catch them.

”I really didn’t think Bill or his wife would do something like that, but I needed to know for sure.” The next day Debbie reported the discovery to West Midlands Police, but was told with no sign of forced entry, she would need further evidence.

Debbie then raced to the shop to buy some cameras to try and catch the stalker. She told Nolan’s wife that she would be out on Thursday afternoon until Friday morning, and left home.

And just half an hour later, her male neighbour was recorded frantically searching for his missing devices, as can be seen in the clip.

Speaking of his return, Debbie said: “The first thing I did was go upstairs and there were large footprints on the landing and by the bed so I knew somebody had come looking for the second device.”

Debbie rewound the footage to around 3pm on Thursday – when Nolan’s wife left to get their grandchildren from school – and caught him on camera.

She said: “At 3.23pm I heard the front door open and caught him on camera.

“He went straight to the coffee table and I thought ‘I’ve got him’.”

Footage shows him panicked, rummaging through the kitchen drawer and then going out of shot briefly – to look for the device that was on her headboard.

She called her son, 32, to go and confront him.

She said: “I went next door and spoke to them about it and he went ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’.

His wife said maybe he was looking for the cats, and I said ‘what, under the coffee table?’”

Debbie called the police and submitted her evidence, and they arrested William Nolan on December 18, 2020. She said he initially maintained he was looking for the cats in the video footage.

But he pleaded guilty to the charge and was jailed in May 2021.

Judge David Wain described the case as one of the most serious ‘stalking’ offences he had ever seen, but blasted the CPS for its choice of charge, saying the decision severely constrained his sentencing powers.

It meant the maximum sentence he could impose was 26 weeks, but he reduced it to 15 weeks due to Nolan’s guilty plea and personal mitigation.

The convicted stalker was ordered to pay £300 compensation and was banned from contacting his victim under an indefinite restraining order.

The judge said: “Putting one on the coffee table was bad enough but putting one on her headboard understandably caused her the most amount of distress imaginable. The safety she felt in her own home was destroyed.

“On discovery of the devices she said she was hysterical that someone wanted to listen to her personal conversations.

“She felt sick to the stomach about the one on the headboard. That’s perfectly understandable.”

In mitigation, Pallo Bailey, said his client’s wife remained “supportive” but added his behaviour had put a ‘strain’ on their marriage.

Of Nolan’s reduced sentence, brave Debbie said: “I was disappointed but very happy that he’s been sent down for such a sick act.

“Family and friends say it’s like something out of a crime book.

”Even the judge said he’s never dealt with such a serious case of stalking. I was widowed about two years ago and I’ve now got a new partner so I don’t know if that had anything to do with what he was doing.

”These days I ask my niece to feed my cats, if I’ve learnt anything, it’s that you just don’t know who you can trust. It’s always better to play it safe.”

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