A father who was charged with stalking and being a ‘domestic abuser’ by police after he hired a private detective to track down his ex-partner when she went missing with their two children has been cleared of any wrongdoing.
Businessman Hayden Miller, 31, had paid an IP to track beautician Sarah Peet to her sister’s new property 275 miles from their home after she left with the youngsters in late 2021 in a VW. £14,000 golf he had given her ‘wrapped in a gift bow’.
The owner of the transport company, from Norden, near Rochdale, Greater Manchester, was charged with coercive behavior and harassment, and faces up to five years in prison, after he asked Miss Peet, also 31, to control spending on beauty products.
Mr. Miller claimed that his partner was always in debt and she told the court that he asked to see her bank account to monitor her use of overdrafts, telling her that he “had to stop paying… luxuries.”
Miss Peet claimed her new home was a “safe space” from Mr Miller, who she said had “caused her pain” during their relationship.
Businessman Hayden Miller (pictured), 31, from Norden, Greater Manchester, paid an IP to track the mother of his two children to his sister’s new property 275 miles from their home and has been charged with harassment and coercive behavior, but was cleared of all charges in court
Beautician Sarah Peet (pictured), 31, claimed her new home was a “safe space” from Mr Miller, who she said had “caused her pain” during their relationship.
A police officer also charged Mr Miller with “domestic abuse” after he made an application under the domestic violence disclosure scheme, known as Clare’s Law, as part of his inquiries into the whereabouts of Miss Peet.
At the inquest she said she abused alcohol and was concerned for her daughters’ well-being, a court heard.
He subsequently insisted that Miss Peet, known to his friends as ‘Sally’, was regularly in debt due to her excessive spending on luxuries and said that he had hired the private detective to serve him legal documents after she refused to cooperate with him. family mediation meetings.
At Bolton Magistrates Court, following a nine-month legal trial, Mr Miller was acquitted of both charges after Justices of the Peace accepted that he had hired the private detective for a “legal purpose”.
They said Ms Peet gave “emotional evidence” and found Mr Miller’s explanation “credible”.
The couple began dating in October 2019 after meeting through the dating website Plenty of Fish. Miss Peet gave birth to her first child in September of the following year and then to her second in October 2021.
But she claimed that Mr. Miller drank too much and tried to prevent him from seeing her sister who lives in Somerset. She also said that he hid from her mother when she came to visit them, claiming that she was “too nosy” and that he did not want her in her house.
Speaking from behind a screen, Ms Peet told the court: ‘He would ask to see my bank account to see what my overdraft was and how much I was spending. He said he had to stop paying for my luxuries and certain items he wanted for me, in particular my GlossyBox cosmetics subscription, which cost about £10 a month.
‘I felt like I had nothing I could keep for myself. I enjoyed buying it. I got a beauty degree and it was nice to treat myself, but I ended up having to quit.’
She also claimed that Mr. Miller saw her enter the security code on her mobile phone so that he could secretly access it later.
“I was a bit upset in a way because of my privacy,” she added.
Miller (pictured) said she finally saw her children again in November 2022, nearly a year after they left with their mother.
“I have a right to privacy if I am having a conversation with friends and family and I thought I was invading my privacy.
‘Then there was one occasion when I tried to pass him on the landing. He came up to me and accused me of trying to push him. He put his finger under my chin and said, “How dare I try to push him?”
‘I was really terrified. He said that I was a bum.
Miss Peet added: “In arguments, he often told me that social services know me for hurting our baby.” It would make me feel horrible. I was too scared to say anything. He didn’t know how he would react.
She eventually left the couple’s home in December 2021 and moved into her sister’s new home in Glastonbury without telling Miller where she was going. She went to police after Miller sent a relative a photo of her new address and alleged that he used a Tile Bluetooth keychain he had been given for Christmas to track her movements.
“I was afraid for the safety of my family and this place was my safe space,” Ms. Peet said at the hearing.
‘I didn’t know the purpose of the message, it seemed like a threat. I called my health assistant for advice and he told me to report it to the police.
He was following me and I felt like a prisoner. He would leave looking over his shoulder everywhere. I was even worried that people would talk to me. I felt like I was being watched all the time and I couldn’t live my life.’
Miss Peet’s brother-in-law, Michael Baller, told the court: “The reason she came to us was supposedly a safe space where she could be away from Hayden and the private investigator tracked her down to our location and took her away.”
“She was in a panic and became paranoid and stressed, constantly thinking she was being followed or watched. She was completely surprised to be herself. She wasn’t in a good place, she was nervous.
PC Joanne Walmsley of Greater Manchester Police said she processed Claire’s Law request from Mr Miller for information about Miss Peet’s past, but added: “I do not believe the circumstances described by the requester fit the the criteria”. He was concerned because, in my opinion, it read like a domestic violence abuser trying to use the scheme to track down a victim who had run away from her home.
“There were no concerns about the safety of the children and he was ultimately informed that the disclosure request was unsuccessful.”
“For as long as I’ve known Sally (pictured), she’s complained about her finances. She was always in overdraft and I was always lending her money to pay off her overdraft and the bills that she had to pay,” Miller told the court.
In his testimony, Mr. Miller said: “For as long as I’ve known Sally, she would complain about her finances.” She was always overdrafted and I would always loan her money to pay off her overdraft and any bills she had to pay.
“I gave him my debit card and bought him a £14,000 car which he loved. It was a surprise gift: it was gift wrapped with a bow.
“We argued a lot, but money was something we never argued about. He asked me for money and I never complained.
Miller added: “I employed a private detective on the advice of my father, the family lawyer and mediator. I did a family mediation for three hours and she rejected hers and we needed to prove that the court documents were sent to the correct address before we sent them.
“Initially we thought she lived with her sister in Bath but that was an old address and when another was found I asked what kind of car was outside and established the address. I have never been there. I did not follow or track her.
‘I never controlled her, in any case, I have allowed her to move like I have given her a car. I never stopped her from going south. It was her choice not to go see her sister.
Miller said she finally saw her children again in November 2022, nearly a year after they left home with their mother.
Returning the not guilty verdicts, JP Gerrard Connor said: “Miss Peet was emotional in her speech, but your evidence, Mr Miller, was credible.”
We believe that Ms. Peet was free to visit her family whenever she wanted, and you hired the private investigator for a legitimate purpose.