A man who persistently harassed his former wife and looked up how to hire a hitman online has been spared jail.

Mark MacDougall, of Belvedere Drive in Wrexham, appeared at Mold Crown Court for sentence on Wednesday.

The 55-year-old had admitted stalking and two counts of breaching a restraining order.

Philip Clemo, prosecuting, explained in respect of the stalking offence, the complainant Ruth MacDougall had been married to the defendant for 23 years until their relationship ended in November 2020.

Following the separation, the defendant's behaviour gave rise to significant anxiety on Mrs MacDougall's part.

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In addition to turning up at and near hotels she was staying at in a bid to get away from the former family home, MacDougall messaged her a link to a GPS tracking site, which worried her.

He also followed and attempted to befriend her on a number of social networking sites and had a letter sent to her via a solicitor seeking reconciliation.

When the complainant had been using a Wetherspoons app at a pub in Wrexham town centre, the defendant had been able to "keep tabs" on what she was doing as the app was linked to a business email they used to share.

He even attended the pub and asked to see CCTV, claiming there had been fraudulent use of his account and giving his former wife's description to staff.

When police checked his phone, they realised he'd been using a fake name to reach out to Mrs MacDougall on Facebook.

He'd also input searches about "hiring hitmen" and "life insurance," the court heard.

The Leader: Mold Crown CourtMold Crown Court

In a victim impact statement, read to the court by Mr Clemo, Mrs MacDougall said her anxiety had gone "through the roof" since separating from her partner, and that she was in fear of where he may turn up.

She said she had to change her routine "almost daily" to ensure he wouldn't be able to locate her.

Regarding the breach of restraining order, this offence was committed against another complainant; Louise Jones.

In a victim personal statement read out to the court, she said the defendant's behaviour had made her feel vulnerable and intimidated.

Nicholas Williams, defending, told the court his client had pleaded guilty and accepted responsibility for the offences.

"He's moved on," Mr Williams said.

"He's in a new relationship and he very much wants to put all of this behind him."

Judge Niclas Parry told MacDougall: "Here are two ladies who, at one stage, played an important part in your life - who have simply not been able to get on with their lives because they have been continuously harassed by you.

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"The time has come for the court to take a more serious stance."

The Judge handed him a total of four months for the restraining order breaches, and an additional four months to run consecutive for the stalking - making a total of eight months.

However, the sentence was suspended for two years and MacDougall must undertake 80 hours of unpaid work.

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