Stalker created fake Instagram profiles for successful women and 'made their lives hell'

·Freelance Writer
·2-min read
Matthew Hardy bombarded his victims with messages leaving them living in constant fear that they were being watched. (SWNS)
Matthew Hardy bombarded his victims with messages leaving them living in constant fear that they were being watched. (SWNS)

A stalker has been jailed after he created fake Instagram and WhatsApp accounts to impersonate women, before making their lives “hell”.

Matthew Hardy, 30, bombarded his victims with messages leaving them living in constant fear that they were being watched, as well as telling their families they were having affairs, Chester Crown Court heard.

One victim “slept with a baseball bat” amid fears her stalker could get into her house.

The court heard Hardy would pose as friends and family members in order to gather information about his victims that would cause embarrassment.

After gaining the trust of his victims, mostly successful young women, he would send messages he knew were a lie in order to create rifts amongst their friends and family.

Prosecutor Andrew Green said he targeted a small business owner, calling her more than 70 times, and set up a fake profile using her photographs to speak to people close to her.

On another occasion, Hardy spread false rumours about a woman having a sexual relationship with her father-in-law to cause friction in her family.

A general view of Chester Crown Court.   (Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)
Matthew Hardy was jailed for nine years at Chester Crown Court. (PA Images via Getty Images)

The court heard how he would sometimes “taunt” his victims about his continued creation of fake profiles in their name, saying: “It’ll never you stop, you know” and “Good luck figuring out who I am.”

Sara Haque, defending, said Hardy has autism, learning difficulties and mental health issues.

She said his inability to form relationships, living a very isolated life, had led him to try and connect with people online – and then “lash out” when they “rejected him”.

But judge Steven Everett said Hardy knew what he was doing and had an “innate criminality”, as highlighted through his “sophisticated” scheme of harassment.

Hardy, from Northwich, Cheshire, pleaded guilty to stalking involving fear of violence and harassment after breaching a restraining order.

He admitted creating fake profiles on social media between April 2016 and August 2021 to try to befriend his victims.

Jailing him for nine years, judge Everett told Hardy his nine victims had "done nothing to harm you; you chose them at random" and they paid for it in "sheer misery".

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