Stalking laws are being used to prevent people discovering if their partners are cheating on them, a jilted husband has claimed.
Businessman Andrew Hunter, 41, was convicted of stalking his wife, after admitting placing a listening device in her purse and a GPS tracker on her car.
But he claimed he only resorted to subterfuge because he suspected his wife, Joanna, of being unfaithful and wanted to ascertain the facts in a “non confrontational” way.
After tracking his wife’s movements, he discovered she had been using the Plenty of Fish dating website and had met a man, identified in court only as Tom.
When he presented her with the evidence she moved out with their two children and Hunter was later charged with stalking offences.
Despite admitting the offences at an earlier hearing, Hunter, who was back in court to be sentenced, claimed he had only done so on poor legal advice and prosecuting him had been a misuse of the legislation.
Speaking after the hearing, he said: “This is not what the stalking legislation was brought in to protect against. The law was designed to protect women from being persistently followed and pestered and sometimes worse by people who refuse to leave them alone. That wasn’t the case here.
“Within a relationship of course it is wrong to be controlling, that is never acceptable. But for a husband or a wife to take the very minimum amount of steps to reveal an affair and then stop? You could certainly argue that it’s questionable whether that is legally unacceptable.”
But in her victim personal statement to the court Mrs Hunter said her husband’s behaviour had been volatile and had left her “self esteem at rock bottom.”
She said after moving out of the family home she “rediscovered her confidence,” adding: “I put that down to no longer being around him and his insults. I was wary of always doing and saying the correct thing around him.”
She added: “I am now constantly looking in my rear view mirror to see if he is following me and checking my car for listening devices and tracking devices.”
Simon Walker, mitigating, told the court: “The reason I have found this case difficult to advise on is that one of the defences to stalking and harassment in general is whether you have a reasonable excuse.
“It could be argued you might think that a spouse trying to find out whether their fellow spouse is engaged in an affair through non violent means could be a reasonable excuse defence in a criminal case.”
Hunter admitting stalking his wife by sending abusive text messages about her meetings, taking photographs and using the monitoring devices, which he said he bought online without realising using them might be illegal.
He was sentenced to an 18 month community order part of which involves attending a “building better relationships” programme. Joanne Hunter was also granted a restraining order against him for 18 months prohibiting contact.
He was ordered to pay £400 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.