A police officer who served for 29 years and had commendations for bravery, has been sent to prison for stalking his ex-wife. Ainsley Francis, 57, bought a recording device off eBay and recorded his ex-wife having sex with her new partner.
He had apparently placed the device in her bedroom when she left for a holiday. It was placed behind a plug socket next to her bed. He not only recorded her having sex, but also listened to her phone conversations and whenever she went to the bathroom. The device used to send updates to Francis’ phone. Police found 187 recordings downloaded on his mobile.
Francis and his now ex-wife, Barbara Stokoe met in 1988. They separated in 2012 after a bitter divorce proceeding. After divorce, he continued to visit Barbara and the kid they had together. He had also been accused of threatening her and breaking into her house when she was not there. The stalking began in May 2014. This was after Barbara got into a relationship with a man named Anthony Lock. He had driven past her home multiple times and bombarded her with phone calls. Moreover, he went to the extent of asking her for photos of herself.
Maidstone Crown Court had described his behavior as malicious. They sentenced Ainsley to 45 months in prison on Friday. “It was clear from the messages that Mr Francis was sending to Ms Stokoe at this time that he was familiar with her movements,” said prosecutor Richard Job.
When Barbara and Anthony returned from a trip they had taken to India, they found changes in their home. The freezer in the garage had been turned off and food had been left to defrost. This is one of the first instances when Barbara had realized that Francis broke into their apartment. After confronting him about the visits, her divorce lawyers sent him a letter warning him about his behavior.
However, things went downhill when they found out about the ‘bug’ hidden in their bedroom. Such an act had left Barbara with feelings of violation and helplessness. Francis was later reported as saying that he did this in order to prevent the commission of a crime.
Francis was sentenced to 45 months of prison time and a restraining order preventing him from being in contact with his ex-wife. However, his barrister Edmund Gritt said Francis apologized to his ex-wife and Mr Lock for their “disgraceful treatment”.
It is a shame that a police officer who had been rewarded for his bravery in the field would commit such a devious crime. It was a gross intrusion of privacy which left the victim with a feeling of fear and distress.
By Abhishek Aggarwal