A young Birkenhead mum wept in court as she told how her former partner’s "extreme stalking" and harassment had wrecked her life.

She had an on-off relationship with former soldier Christopher Jones but her young son had become devoted to him and “worshipped the ground he walked on."

He was too young to understand what had happened and his behaviour at school has now deteriorated.

Liverpool Crown Court heard how the couple formed a relationship in 2014 which she ended in August 2017 and the next month she reported him to police as he had started following her, called her up to 50 times a day, sent her 60 emails a day and sent her love letters.

Magistrates subsequently imposed a restraining order on Jones until November 2019 banning him from contacting her and to keep away from her Birkenhead home.

The woman, described as “particularly vulnerable” rekindled their relationship in November the following year but parted again in February last year.

Claire Jones, prosecuting, said, “The catalogue of conduct in this case demonstrates a campaign of extreme stalking and harassing behaviour and actions in breach of the restraining order.”

As well as repeatedly messaging and driving past her home she awoke in the middle of the night to find he had been in her house while she slept and moved her mobile phone from her bedside table to her pillow.

He put nails in her car tyres, broke into her back garden and threw items about, hacked her Instagram account and changed her password. He used fake Facebook profiles to monitor her account.

He also chillingly contacted her via Instagram sending a picture from the movie ‘Taken’ with the wording in the picture ‘I will find you.’ He also rang her playing the same clip from the film.

He was arrested in May last year and released under investigation and continued his campaign of harassment and researched hacking her social media accounts and also looked into tracking her.

Miss Jones said that he also tried emotional blackmail via email asking how she could do this to her son and his emails became menacing including saying, “you want to play games with someone then prepare to be burnt’.

Other emails flipped between being loving and begging to see her and then threatening to report her for benefit fraud and more nails were put beneath her car tyres.

Jones, 28, of Burman Road, Garston, was arrested in July last year and when his home was searched they found a tracking device, three mobile phones and USB sticks. Nails were found in his car.

He pleaded guilty to stalking and breaching a restraining order.

The victim, who repeatedly broke down while reading out her statement, told how Jones had isolated her from her friends and damaged her self-esteem.

“My biggest fear is he will be released and he will be back and we as a family cannot get on with our lives.”

Jailing Jones for four years Judge Thomas Teague, QC, told him "You waged a campaign of extreme harassment."

He said Jones had chosen to exploit his relationship with the vulnerable victim's son to try and resume contact with her.

"This toxic combination of threats and emotional blackmail indeed proved so potent in reducing her resistance and sense of self-worth and independence, on one occasion - much to her regret now I'm sure - she actually resumed intimate contact with you again."

The judge accepted he had "at long last" shown remorse but he said he caused the mum significant psychological harm.

Anna Duke, defending, said when the victim read her statement, Jones had his head in his hands, "quite visibly distressed and quite rightly so".

She accepted he was "obsessed" with his victim and could not cope when their "very on and off relationship" ended.

Miss Duke said: "He left the Army once he was in a relationship with this particular complainant.

"He admits there's something lacking in his approach to relationships and he's eager to change."

After sentencing, Detective Inspector Laura Lamping said: "This was a frightening experience for Jones’ victim and I am pleased that Jones is behind bars, where he rightly belongs, for the foreseeable future.

"I hope this case gives other victims the confidence to come forward if they are being subjected to this type of unacceptable and criminal behaviour so that we can take action.

"Protecting vulnerable people is a priority for the force and we welcome any victim of stalking who finds the confidence to report offences, and we will investigate them thoroughly and with discretion.

"Specially trained officers are here to provide safeguarding, support and reassurance throughout."

Anyone wishing report an offence of stalking or who has information is encouraged to contact Merseyside Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

You can also call the National Stalking Helpline, a project run by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, on 0808 802 0300.