Irrational husband bugged estranged wife's home and car after unfounded affair fears
Stephen Ewatt, 55, planted an electronic listening device at the back of the TV in the family home he had shared with his estranged wife in Clifton Court, Springwell.
Ewatt, of Boston Avenue, Washington Village, also hid a second device in her motor so he could listen in on calls and conversations when she was out and about, a court heard.
Prosecutor Glenda Beck said he began his sinister campaign in June, around six months after they had split and after he moved out when Covid restrictions were lifted.
She said Ewatt had become irrationally concerned about his wife’s friends and acquaintances and unfounded belief she was having an affair.
It led to months of stalking, which started in June and ended in October, South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court was told.
Mrs Beck added: “He was sending messages about TV shows she had been watching.
“She was concerned when he sent her a text message about conversations that she had with friends.
“She was concerned that the defendant had been listening to her.
“She pulled out the television and found a device that had flashing lights, which she knew hadn’t always been there.
“A friend helped her to remove it and it was connected to a SIM card.”
Despite her suspicions, his victim did not contact police out of concern it would land her husband in trouble, it was said.
Ewatt also stalked her on numerous occasions, including turning up unexpectedly outside a newsagents she was visiting.
Mrs Beck said in June the defendant’s estranged wife, the mother of his children, found an Apple iPhone, linked to a battery, in her car.
She added: “On September 21 she had some issue with her car and had to borrow a car to go to South Shields.
“The defendant contacted her about this, but she hadn’t told him that she was going there.
“He has alleged that she was having an affair with a work colleague, which was not true.”
The court heard Ewatt also turned up at her workplace at Gateshead Civic Centre and had tailed her in his Ford Focus car.
Tom Morgan, defending Ewatt, who pleaded guilty to stalking but has no previous convictions, said: “I’ve no doubt that the court will have concerns.
“The defendant is not an experienced participant in this arena. I do think he ticks the boxes for a suspended sentence.”
Deputy District Judge Alex Boyd said: “It seems to me that this is at the top end of this type of offending.”
He ordered a report into Ewatt’s offending and left all sentencing options open, including custody.
Ewatt was granted bail on condition he does not enter an area bordered by the A1231, A19, A184 and the A1.
He must also reside at his home, abide by an electronically monitored 7pm to 7am curfew, and not contact his wife.
He will be sentenced at the same court on Friday, November 13.