Gloucestershire

'Dangerous' Gloucestershire man stalked woman he met on Tinder

Craig Francis Image copyright Gloucestershire Police
Image caption Craig France, of Watermoor Road, Cirencester was in an online relationship with the woman but they never met in person

A "very dangerous" man stalked and threatened a woman he met online, saying he would "smash her face in".

Craig Francis sent offensive messages to her father, new boyfriend and put her social media friends in fear, Gloucester Crown Court was told.

Francis, 39, from Cirencester, was due to be sentenced on Friday but Judge Ian Lawrie QC felt "concerned" for the women he may meet in future and wanted "further investigation" into his past.

He will be sentenced next month.

The 39-year-old had done similar things after six previous relationships, the court was told.

Judge Lawrie said: "He is very dangerous and these offences, combined with his previous history, means he has stepped outside of the sentencing guidelines."

'More obsessive'

Prosecutor Janine Wood said he had started the relationship with the woman from Malmesbury, Wiltshire, using the Tinder app in July 2018 - but they had never met in person.

"By September he had become more and more obsessive and she said she wanted to step away from the situation.

"She kept making excuses not to see him, but it appears he didn't get the message that she was no longer interested.

"A few days later he messaged the woman saying, 'I'm coming to Malmesbury to smash your face in - I'm coming with my baseball bat'."

The jury heard Francis made 112 calls from a withheld number, 48 of which were in a three-hour period.

In a victim statement read out in court, the woman said the experience had had a "big effect on her life" and that she had not slept properly since.

"As a 20-year-old I find it hard to ask for help. I now know what anxiety feels like," she said.

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