Catfish ‘ruined’ woman’s life for three years ‘lying to neighbor about affair’

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A victim has told how Matthew Hardy, from Northwich, “ruined her life for three years” by harassing her along with other women after he was jailed for nine years

Matthew Hardy, 30, was jailed for nine years after a campaign of harassment
Matthew Hardy, 30, was jailed for nine years after a campaign of harassment

A woman has told how a catfish “ruined her life for three years” as part of a campaign of harassment that even saw him tell a neighbor she was having an affair with the groom on their wedding day.

Matthew Hardy, 30, from Northwich, who created hundreds of profiles on Instagram and Facebook to stalk people across the UK for a period of over 10 years has been jailed for nine years.

Chester Crown Court heard how Hardy would sometimes pose as friends and family members of the victims he stalked in order to gather information about them that would cause embarrassment.

After gaining the trust of his victims, he would send them messages that he knew were a lie in order to create rifts amongst their family – causing his victims upset and distress.

One victim told the BBC that Hardy ruined her life “for three years” after targeting her on Instagram, reported the Manchester Evening News.

Lia has told how she was targeted by the defendant for three years
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Image:

BBC)

“People think it’s only just a few messages, but it’s not… it’s hell,” said 23-year-old Lia.

“He does not stop. If you don’t reply, he will inundate you. If you block the account, he just makes another one. People say just block it out but you can’t as he does not let you.”

Hardy also sent flirty messages to some of her father’s friends, masquerading as her, and contacted her neighbours, inviting them round to her house for tea.

He told a neighbor that Lia was having an affair with her future husband on the woman’s wedding day.

She said the “amount of trouble that he has caused me… ruined my life for three years.”

Lia continued: “There’s still people out there who he will have messaged or messaged their boyfriends.

“Someone could come up to me at any time and say ‘you’ve been messaging my boyfriend’.”

Hardy, of Forest Place, Northwich, had earlier pleaded guilty to three counts of stalking with intent to cause alarm or distress, two counts of stalking without intent to cause alarm and breaching a restraining order from 2013, which banned him from using false details on social networking sites.

He also admitted stalking a further four women, who were taken into consideration upon sentencing.

Following the sentencing, Police Constable Kevin Anderson of Northwich Local Policing Unit, said: “Having led on this case for more than 18 months I have seen the emotional distress and turmoil that Hardy has inflicted on his victims – he did all of this while hiding behind his computer screen.

“The impact on those affected by his actions has been immense, causing some of them to change some of their daily habits, and live in constant fear that they were being watched.

“On other occasions, it caused them to lose trust in their friends and family members, and even led to the breakdown of long-term relationships.

“Thankfully, Hardy has now been held accountable for his actions, and his online activity has finally been brought to a stop.

“I hope that the conclusion of this case will provide some closure for his victims and enable then to rebuild and move forward with their lives.”

Sergeant Andy Cooper, of Northwich Local Policing Unit, added: “This has been an extremely complex case involving a number of victims across the UK.

“Hardy was relentless and thought that he had covered his tracks. He created hundreds of fake accounts in order to gain the trust of his victims and he manipulated them into believing the lies that he was feeding them.

“Thankfully, as a result of the dedication and diligence shown by PC Anderson, we were able to gather the evidence required to ensure that Hardy was finally held accountable for his actions.

“PC Anderson went above and beyond his role in order to achieve justice for Hardy’s victims and I would like to thank him for his professionalism and focus throughout this investigation.”

Detective Superintendent Louise Cherrington, force lead for stalking, said: “Stalking can come in many forms and in cases such as this many people may not realize that they have been a victim.

“However, the emotional distress that this type of crime can cause cannot be underestimated and I hope that the conclusion of this case will give other victims the confidence to come forward – you will be listened to and we will do all that we can to ensure that action is taken.”



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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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