A GB News presenter says she had a hellish year after being harassed by a former Airline star who appeared on her show as a guest.
Ellie Costello was left fearing for her safety and suffering “panic attacks” after Leo Jones bombarded her with creepy messages.
The 29-year-old bravely revealed her ordeal after Jones, who found fame on ITV’s reality show Airline before reinventing himself as a ‘travel expert’, was granted a five-year restraining order today .
The 41-year-old also received a suspended prison sentence at St Albans Magistrates Court for her year-long campaign which left her in “constant stress” and “sleepless nights”.
GB News presenter Ellie Costello on set. Miss Costello says she suffered a year of hell after being harassed by a former guest on her show
Leo Jones outside St Albans Magistrates Court. The 42-year-old man received a five-year restraining order prohibiting him from contacting Ms. Costello.
It comes as campaigners have launched a ‘super complaint’ about police forces in the UK allegedly failing to protect women from stalkers, meaning police watchdogs must now consider whether to launch a national investigation.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which was set up after the disappearance and murder of the London estate agent in 1986, says victims are at risk due to “systemic” failures.
Miss Costello told the Daily Mail that she had she never actually met the father-of-two in person, having interviewed him over Zoom, before he started showing up on her filming locations.
On one occasion, he arrived at her studio at 5 am but she was not at work that day.
“I was crying in the witness room before I got to court today, it took my whole body to do it, but I wanted the court to hear me in person in my own words about what this has done to me,” she said.
Jones, a self-described “travel expert”, appeared on GB News, where he was interviewed by Miss Costello (pictured)
Jones rose to fame on Airline, which ran for eight years until 2006 and followed the lives of EasyJet workers through the ups and downs of airport dramas, turning them into small-time stars.
He has most recently billed himself as a “travel expert”, analyzing the industry under Covid-19 travel restrictions and was first interviewed by Miss Costello on GB News in August 2021.
After the broadcast, the couple exchanged messages thanking each other, but nothing more.
He was interviewed again by Miss Costello in October of that year, after which he suggested that they should host a travel show together before later telling him, “I love to see you on X-morning.”
When she didn’t reply, he followed up with ‘you take my breath away’ and then, for the next three days, ‘you motivate me beyond words’, ‘I love seeing you’ and ‘You are my sunshine, I love you’. .
When Jones asked, “How long do I have to wait to see you? You’re driving me crazy,” Miss Costello finally responded, telling her, “Please stop texting me, it’s beyond inappropriate.”
But the court heard that the messages only stopped for three months before Jones, using a separate Instagram account, said: “I know I’m not supposed to message you but thank you for all you do for the travel industry. “, followed by “No”. one will never come close to you’.
Miss Costello then blocked all of his social media accounts from contacting hers.
In June this year, Jones appeared at the GB News studio in Paddington asking if she was available before sending her flowers with a message: “Something to say good morning from Leo X.”
Miss Costello says she received creepy messages from Jones, which continued even after she told him to stop.
Jones started sending creepy messages after being interviewed by Miss Costello on GB News (pictured)
Miss Costello also received an email from Mr. Jones via his website saying, “Ellie, I don’t want to be like a stalker. I have feelings for you, you’ve been instrumental in my journey.”
On the day of the Queen’s funeral, while broadcasting from the crowd on Long Walk in Windsor, the reporter saw Jones “with his hand in his pockets, laughing and walking towards her”.
In desperation, she called the police, but was unable to get her words out, muttering only “stalker” as a panic attack set in. By the time the police calmed her down, he had disappeared.
Miss Costello bravely addressed St Albans Magistrates Court from behind a curtain yesterday and detailed the heartbreaking impact Jones has had on her life and work, including giving her a bodyguard.
Describing the incident on the day of the Queen’s funeral, Miss Costello said: “I was shocked after Leo Jones got so close to me.”
“I had a panic attack, I couldn’t breathe or speak, when I realized that he had gotten so close to me, I really freaked out. He must have followed me after watching my broadcast that morning.
“It has made me nervous to get out of cars and go places alone. In my work it is impossible not to say where I am, I have a security officer so that I feel safe at work.
Jones, pictured here on GB News, was given a 26-week prison sentence today, suspended for two years, and a five-year restraining order at St Albans Magistrates Court.
Leo Jones rose to fame after appearing on the ITV reality show Airline, which followed the easyJet staff.
‘The security officer has taught me ways to help keep me safe, to wear less bright colours, to tie up my hair, to position myself in relation to a road, to look outside for threats coming. I have had to change the way I behave at work and in everyday life.
‘I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. I just want to feel safe and secure at work.
‘The last 16 months have been one of constant worry, constant stress and constant tension in my life.
‘The thought of seeing his face makes me cry. I’m frustrated with myself for leaving it like this for so long.
He later told the Mail: ‘Some men look at female reporters and think they know you. He clearly sensed from seeing me that he knew me very well and that we were in a relationship.
“I got the feeling that he was very delusional even though we never met in person, he acted like we were in a relationship.”
Jones pleaded guilty to causing serious alarm, anguish and mental anguish to the presenter and received a prison sentence of 26 weeks, suspended for two years, and a five-year restraining order.
He is now the caretaker for his elderly father, the court heard.
Miss Costello added: “All I wanted out of this was a restraining order because then I can feel safe.” So the fact that he has one for five years is fantastic.
The conclusion of Miss Costello’s case comes as figures revealed that in the year ending March 2022, only five per cent of harassment reports ended up being charged by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). .
The Telegraph reports that 30,000 cases were dropped due to “evidential difficulties” despite victims supporting prosecution.
This has prompted the Suzy Lamplugh Trust to launch a ‘super complaint’ against British police, which it says ‘fail to identify outdated behavior as course of conduct at an early stage, contributing to the CPS improperly charging for it’.
The charity is one of only a dozen or so charities that have the ability to launch this specific type of action, meaning police vigilantes must consider whether to launch a national investigation.
He added that “it is clear that police do not understand or implement” the harassment legislation that came into force a decade ago, which “ultimately leaves many victims unprotected.”
Suky Bhaker (pictured), chief executive of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, said she hoped the “super complaint” issued by the charity would “improve police response to bullying across the country”.
Suky Bhaker, Chief Executive of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, says: “We support thousands of victims every year through our National Stalking Service and a significant number of them tell us that they are being let down by the police and courts at every step of the way. your trip”. to justice
“If bullying is not identified and investigated as soon as possible, the risk of physical and psychological harm to the victim increases.
“We hope the outcome of this super complaint will result in strong recommendations to improve the much-needed police response to harassment across the country.”
Claire Waxman, Commissioner for Victims in London, says: “Too many victims of stalking are being let down by police and the justice system more generally, ignoring or minimizing harassing behaviour, and violations of restraining orders are not taken seriously enough. I laughed.
“I fully support the National Stalking Consortium supercomplaint, which highlights a number of flaws in the way stalking cases are handled, leaving victims at risk of further harm and unnecessary distress.
“Although I had hoped that the revised stalking legislation would lead to better protections and justice for victims, ten years into the charge rate remains unacceptably low.
“It is clear that the justice system is still struggling to vigorously identify and address bullying, which leaves far too many victims suffering and at risk.
‘Change is long overdue as victims of bullying deserve to be protected’