A jilted ‘sugar daddy’ who stalked his glamorous ex-girlfriend leaving her ‘living in fear’ after tearing up £50 notes up in her face was spared jail by a judge who said he ‘felt used’ by the victim.
Stephen Wall, 50, left Sherry Ashby “living in fear” after he started stalking her weeks after she dumped him.
A court heard that during their three-and-a-half-year relationship, Wall spent thousands of pounds on Miss Ashby, 46.
He loaned her £160,000 to help her launch her boutique café business, gave her a £33,000 Land Rover Discovery and paid her a £2,000-a-month allowance.
But when Miss Ashby ended the relationship in March last year, the wealthy businessman launched a terrifying hate campaign against her.
A court heard he repeatedly drove past her café and even hired men to turn up at her home to ‘repossess’ the car he had bought her.
He also plagued Miss. Ashby with WhatsApp messages and on one occasion tore up £50 notes and threw them at her while she sat in traffic.
The court heard that since Miss Ashby dumped Wall, she had been ‘living in fear’ of him’ and was taking anti-depressants.
Wall, of Hampton-in-Arden, Warks., admitted stalking and two charges of breaching a non-molestation order at Warwick Crown Court.
He was spared jail and instead handed a 12-month community order and ordered to take part in a rehabilitation order.
Sentencing Wall on Friday, Recorder Balraj Bhatia QC said he had acted ‘out of character,’ telling him: ‘You no doubt felt used.’
He said; “I accept you are a man of positive good character, decent, caring and well-respected and running a very successful business.
‘It seems it was quite an intense relationship.
‘You gave freely of your time and your affection, and you reflected your commitment to Miss Ashby by investing a significant amount of money so she could realise her ambition.
“That gives you no greater right in terms of your expectations or returns from your partner, but they do give an explanation for why you behaved as out of character as you did. You no doubt felt used.”
The court heard Miss. Ashby was given financial help by Wall to set up Botanics coffee shop and deli in Warwick town centre.
Graeme Simpson, prosecuting, the couple first got together in November 2016 but split up in March last year.
He said; “Towards the end, it was a tempestuous relationship, but during the relationship, he provided financial assistance for her to set up and run a café business in Warwick.”
In April last year, Miss. Ashby obtained a non-molestation order against Wall.
Mr. Simpson added: ‘Between May and September he breached the order by stalking her, repeatedly driving past the business, Botanics coffee shop and Deli.
“He also repeatedly changed his WhatsApp profile picture which had the effect of sending her notifications each time.”
On June 3 Miss Ashby was in her Land Rover on the A46 near Coventry when she saw Wall’s car ahead of her, so slowed down.
Mr. Simpson said; “Because of a traffic tailback they ended up alongside each other and he pointedly tore up £50 notes and threw them from his car as a gesture to her.”
“Later that month Miss Ashby saw some men on the drive of her home, including Wall’s cousin who told her: ‘I’m repossessing your car. I have a warrant. The police are on their way.”
Lee Marklew QC, defending, who described Wall as “a successful businessman”, said; “Today is an acutely embarrassing day for him.
At one time he loved Sherry Ashby, and he felt morally aggrieved at the way, in his eyes, she treated him over what should happen with the Botanics coffee shop after they parted.
After they had started to live together he made a significant financial contribution to the relationship by setting up the Botanics coffee shop so she could realise her dream of setting up her own business.
Because he was in love with her, he made her a joint director, although she had no money to pay to set up the business.
He made £160,500 available to the café through a series of director’s loans until February 2020 and paid her an allowance of £2,000 a month while the business got on its feet, and he bought her a Land Rover Discovery for £33,000.
While this gave him no greater entitlement to complain when they split up, he still bore her in his heart.”
Mr. Marklew added that Wall was ‘exasperated and at times indignant about her attitude towards what he had done for her.’