A RESPECTED tutor and author has avoided prison despite a campaign of stalking which saw him "commando crawling" towards his victim.

Graham Steed, 68, admitted stalking former charity shop worker Stephanie Keeble for nearly two years, during which time he hired a private investigator to follow and take photos of her and a partner, and tried to install covert cameras in a neighbour's garden.

Steed, who pleaded guilty to stalking with serious harm/distress, also visited Ms Keeble on numerous occasions at the charity shop in Bishop's Walthamwhere she worked, despite agreeing to stay away, and sent letters of complaint to her employer, as well as that of her partner.

Before being sentenced at Winchester Crown Court, Basingstoke Magistrates' Court heard how Steed, of Holybourne Road, Romsey, had been a tutor for Ms Keeble's autistic daughter, and after his services were no longer needed, he had remained a friend of the family before the relationship broke down.

He also sent photos taken by the private investigator of her with her partner to her husband, and on one occasion she spotted Steed "commando crawling towards the car" she was in with her partner.

In a victim impact statement Ms Keeble said: "It was extremely distressing, he became obsessed with me.

"Whenever I'm out and about, I'm always looking over my shoulder. I'm in fear of my life."

Ms Keeble added that she now regularly has to check the locks on her windows and doors, has her security light turned on constantly and often goes without eating.

Mitigating, Adrienne Knight told Winchester Crown Court that Steed was ashamed of himself and had been suffering from depression for more than a decade – which he would be seeking psychiatric support for – and was on medication for it.

The court also heard a there was a number of positive character references submitted for Steed, and that his biggest concern was what would happen to his wife, who he cared for, if he was jailed.

Judge Jane Miller QC sentenced Steed to a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, as well as a rehabilitation requirement and 150 hours of unpaid work.

He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge, and a restraining order was put in place.