Jail for builder who stalked female customer for two months

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A businesswoman found herself the target of a builder from hell who stalked her for two-months after she sacked him.

Stewart Houston (37) bombarded Victoria Roy on messaging apps after she dismissed him from a job he was doing for her at her livery yard, and drove repeatedly past her home.

When she threatened to sue him for the return of her horse lorry – which she had lent him to carry materials – he texted her, “You will need a will if you do that”.

Last Thursday, Stirling Sheriff Court heard Ms Roy (33), who had recently separated from the father of her three children, had asked Houston for a quote after an acquaintance recommended him.

He visited her yard in Bonnybridge, Stirlinghsire, to look at the job and, while he did not provide an immediate quote, it was agreed he would do so before starting work.

Next day he arrived and “deposited a quantity of building materials”.

Procurator fiscal depute Kyrsten Buist said: “Although a price had not yet been agreed, he began carrying out building work, which concerned Ms Roy that she might be billed for work she hadn’t authorised.

“After several attempts to obtain costings from him, she eventually allowed him to continue.”

Miss Buist said that as the work continued, Ms Roy “began to come to the view that he had a romantic interest in her”, though it was accepted that he made no advances.

Around this time “there was a swap of vehicles”, with Ms Roy lending Houston her horse box to carry materials and him lending her his BMW X5.

The prosecutor said that after about three months, Ms Roy “had become unhappy with certain work he had carried out” and asked him to stop.

Miss Buist said: “He texted that he would attend to collect his belongings, but was advised not to return unless it was to return the horse lorry.”

He did however return, taking his BMW and leaving behind a Saab.

Over a period of several days Ms Roy then saw him driving past her farm in his BMW or his tipper lorry, doing U-turns in the road before driving off again.

Miss Buist said: “Ms Roy became terrified and afraid to leave her home. She thought he had no reason to be passing her house.”

He bombarded her with text and app messages, including the aforementioned statement needing a will – which Miss Buist said Ms Roy “perceived as a threat”.

Houston, of Wallacestone, Falkirk, pled guilty to stalking Ms Roy, between November and December 2015.

He also admitted stalking another woman, 38-year-old Tracey Gow, who dumped him in October 2016 after a brief relationship which began after they were introduced by a friend.

Miss Buist said he had “seemed to move in” to her home in Skinflats. She found him “extremely intense” and had told him she didn’t want their relationship to continue.

He left but kept her house key, and when she texted asking for it back he replied, “Your house keys are my house keys”.

He also turned up at a pub where she was having a night out – she had no idea how he knew she was there – claimed she owed him money, and Facebooked her calling her, “Tracey Gow Cow”.

The court heard that Miss Gow felt hounded and had to have her locks changed, and eventually had to move permanently because of the issues she had experienced with him.

When she put her house on the market, she learned that he had put in a verbal offer for it.

Defence solicitor Hazel McGuinness said, in the case of Miss Roy, Houston felt he was owned money and that the business relationship between them had soured.

She said: “He accepts that his behaviour over the piece was wholly unacceptable.”

Sheriff Wyllie Robertson jailed Houston for 17 months.

After reading a victim impact statement on Miss Gow, he said the psychological, psychiatric, and financial impact Houston’s behaviour had on her had been “profound”.