Using apps like Strava, social media and tracking devices, Christopher Baker, 40, was able to monitor his victim’s whereabouts in an “obsessive” seven-week campaign
A stalker and his mum set up a WhatsApp chat called ‘Operation Spycam’ so they could terrorise a woman together.
Christopher Baker, 40, used social media, tracking devices, and apps such as Strava – used for recording exercise – to monitor his victim’s whereabouts in an “obsessive” seven-week campaign.
He would follow the woman while she was meeting with friends, break glass outside her home late at night, and even once Googled “how to hire a hitman”.
Baker was living in Dover, Kent, with his mother Paula Baker at the time last year, and she decided to join in with the stalking – following, photographing, and videoing the victim, before reporting back to her son.
The pair even set up a chat titled ‘Operation Spycam’ on WhatsApp, where they conversed about their illegal activities.
In messages later found by police, Christopher Baker described one location – connected to the victim – as “difficult to snoop”, telling his mother they would “have to look when dark”.
He also told his mother he intended to buy a vehicle tracking device for the woman’s car. Despite Paula Baker, 62, boasting that she was “too clever” to be detected, she and her son were arrested.
Officers found a voice recorder and GPS tracker in Christopher Baker’s car, and, after seizing his phone and hard drive, discovered the WhatsApp chat which contained numerous photographs and videos of the victim.
Police also found “almost daily” internet searches which Christopher Baker had made, which included things like “how to hack WhatsApp”, “how to open a door chain or bar latch from the outside”, and “if a bottle is thrown against a window with sufficient force, which shatters first?” The mother and son duo later admitted stalking involving serious alarm and distress.
During their sentencing at Canterbury Crown Court, prosecutor Ian Foinette said their actions had left the victim feeling “emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed”. “Because of what she was subjected to”, he continued, she is now fearful of putting the bins out at night and “carries an alarm in her pocket.”
The court heard of one distressing occasion in which the woman was in a car park when she noticed a Citroen, with Paula Baker at the wheel, slowing down and “looking right at her” before driving off. In other instances, she heard glass being smashed in her garden late at night, and suspected her emails had been hacked.
Canterbury Crown Court also heard that, when Kent Police went to Paula Baker’s home, she said: “I know she has been out because I’ve been looking out for her to see what she is up to. She is not at home because I have been there….I’m too clever (to be caught). She doesn’t know I’ve been following her.”
The 62-year-old, who works as a chef, also claimed she was “used to doing undercover work” and made references to filming the victim with a camcorder. George Jackson, defending Paula Baker, told the court she had become “embroiled in this messy situation out of a sense of misguided loyalty”, when she should have behaved like a “responsible mother”.
Donna Longcroft, defending Christopher Baker, urged the court to take an “exceptional” approach and impose a community-based sentence for what was “desperate and out-of-character” behaviour. She also said he risked losing his job as a seaman, for which he had recently applied to sit a Chief Officer’s exam.
However, Judge Alison Russell jailed Christopher Baker, of Canterbury, Kent, for three years. Paula Baker got a 12-month suspended prison sentence alongside 200 hours of unpaid work.
Judge Russell said that although there could be no doubt both were “equally complicit in this deliberate and prolonged stalking campaign”, Christopher Baker’s actions were “particularly low and reprehensible” and immediate custody was unavoidable.
She told him he was “the author of his own misfortune”, adding: “It is important not to forget the voice of the victim and the personal statement sets out clearly and carefully the effect your conduct has had. It had considerable impact on her mental health, reaching a point where she no longer felt safe in her home or walking the streets alone….It has affected all parts of her life. This was a particularly unpleasant campaign, deliberately designed to cause fear and distress.
“The degree of planning was not only high and sophisticated but particularly culpable given that it involved searches on how to hire a hitman and how to hurt people.” Judge Russell told Paula Baker that her “comments to police were not admissions of guilt but boasts, matters of which you were proud”, but said she could spare her immediate jail on the grounds of her age, poor health, and a realistic prospect of rehabilitation.