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How Britain’s worst cyberstalker Matthew Hardy evaded justice for 11 years despite terrorising multiple young women – as his story is featured in Netflix’s Can I Tell You A Secret?


Matthew Hardy from Cheshire enacted a campaign of stalking and harassment online that spanned over a decade.

His relentless online persecutions tore apart friendships, relationships – and even nearly ruined the wedding day of one of his victims.

Others lived in so much fear that they slept with samurai swords and baseball bats by their beds. 

But despite terrorising young women for over a decade, it wasn’t until January 2022 that Hardy was served with a custodial sentence of nine years.

As Can I Tell You A Secret is set to air on Netflix, FEMAIL takes a look at how Britain’s worst cyberstalker who managed to dodge justice for 11 years.

Matthew Hardy - Britain's worst cyberstalker - enacted a tirade of stalking and harassment online that spanned over a decade. MailOnline takes a look at how he dodged justice for so long

Matthew Hardy – Britain’s worst cyberstalker – enacted a tirade of stalking and harassment online that spanned over a decade. MailOnline takes a look at how he dodged justice for so long

When did Matthew Hardy’s stalking begin?

Hardy’s cyber crimes began when he was in secondary school in 2006.

As Facebook was in its infancy, so too were Hardy’s stalking and harassment tendencies.

The then-teenager had a hard time in secondary school according to classmates, who said he was often teased and bullied.

Gina, who attended the same school in Northwich, said she often felt sorry for Hardy.

She told The Guardian in 2022: ‘He was isolated, I used to make an effort to say hi.’

But when his peers and young girls in schools nearby rushed in droves to sign up to Facebook, Hardy began to use the platform to stalk them.

According to the publication, he stalked 25 girls alone from one school in Cheshire. 

Melanie (not her real name) who was his first victim, shared that the girls in school quickly cottoned on that the anonymous person messaging them about cheating boyfriends was Hardy.

But everything came to a head when Hardy told Melanie that her deceased mother had been having an affair.

Amy Bailey (pictured), who was also a pupil from Northwich, was only 16 when Hardy began to harass her in 2011. At one point Hardy would call her 50 times a day

Amy Bailey (pictured), who was also a pupil from Northwich, was only 16 when Hardy began to harass her in 2011. At one point Hardy would call her 50 times a day

Telling police that she ‘couldn’t handle’ the harassment from Hardy anymore, authorities said there was nothing they could do because it was online.

Amy Bailey, who was also a pupil from Northwich, was only 16 when Hardy began to harass her in 2011, barraging her phone with 90 calls a day.

She told The Guardian: ‘One time, he said he saw me washing a car, Another time, he commented on the colour of my top. I went in and started crying.’

However, when she told Cheshire police about Hardy’s stalking she was instructed to delete her social media accounts and block his number.

That same year Hardy was convicted of hacking and harassing another ex-classmate, Samantha Boniface.

Two years later in 2013, he pleaded guilty to harassing and hacking Amy Bailey and was served with a restraining order and suspended sentence.

Bailey reported Hardy to police three separate times of breaching his restraining order – once in 2014, another in 2015 and again in 2017.  

Hardy’s convictions did not seem to deter him as he went on to adopt  another victim – Gina Martin – in 2013.

She would wake up to new messages from people  daily who had interacted with an impersonation account Hardy had created of her.

His constant tirades began to make Martin fearful of visiting her parents home as she was aware he only lived five minutes away.

Eventually, she too reported Hardy to the Cheshire constabulary in 2016.

In September 2016, he was arrested under caution, but in April 2017 the Crown Prosecution Service declined to go forward with the case.

These were not the only women had tormented from the area, Hardy’s periodic harassment of Northwich pupils eventually amounted to 25 years.

But his disturbing tendencies didn’t end there. 

Hardy would cast his net further afield, stalking women in the surrounding area and then women who he had never even met at all.

How did Hardy evade justice for 11 years? 

Abby Furness (pictured) said she was made to feel 'really silly' when she initially reported Hardy to Kent police in July 2020. He continued to stalk her until September 2021

Abby Furness (pictured) said she was made to feel ‘really silly’ when she initially reported Hardy to Kent police in July 2020. He continued to stalk her until September 2021

The serial offender began targeting women with large social media followings, with whom he had no connection with whatsoever.

Among these women targeted by Hardy was Zoe Hallam, who first received a message which read ‘Can I tell you a secret?’ on Snapchat from Hardy in 2018.

These messages then progressed to silent phone calls, which would see Hardy taunting Hallam for crying in fear on the phone.

Hardy even went to the lengths of impersonating her partner’s father online and engaging in inappropriate conversations with teenage girls, tarnishing his reputation as a doctor.

Hallam felt she was responsible for her partner’s father’s reputation becoming stained – a sentiment shared by many of Hardy’s victims.

Eventually, things became so frightening for Hallam, that she slept with a samurai sword next to her bed.

In April 2019, she reported him to Lincolnshire police but they claimed there was nothing they could do.

They said that they could only trace numbers for ‘high profile’ cases such as rape or murder.

Abby Furness, whose relationships were also ripped apart by Hardy’s online torment, was made to feel like she was wasting police time when spoke out.

Since he began stalking her in 2019, Hardy had sent intimate photos of her to her boss, he had destroyed her relationship and even impersonated her online.

But when she eventually reported him in July 2020, according to Furness, Kent police implied she was overreacting.

Admitting she felt ‘really silly’ after the phone call, Furness recalled: ‘They said: “Do you really think you are in danger? Because we’re 20 minutes away from you and something might happen over here.”

Even though Hardy harassed her until September 2021, she felt there was no point in contacting authorities again after her initial correspondence with Kent police.

When was Matthew Hardy caught? 

Hardy had terrorised women for over ten years before Cheshire's PC Kevin Anderson (pictured) was assigned to the case in December 2019

Hardy had terrorised women for over ten years before Cheshire’s PC Kevin Anderson (pictured) was assigned to the case in December 2019

Lia Marie Hambly (pictured had documented over 700 pages containing communications from Hardy, which was a massive boost in helping PC Anderson strengthen the case

Lia Marie Hambly (pictured had documented over 700 pages containing communications from Hardy, which was a massive boost in helping PC Anderson strengthen the case

Hardy was arrested a total of ten times before he was eventually put behind bars.

Once Cheshire’s PC Kevin Anderson was assigned to the case in December 2019, his decade long tirades of stalking and harassment would eventually come to an end.

Whilst trawling through Cheshire constabulary’s systems, Anderson made a disturbing discovery.

Over one hundred logs had been made regarding Hardy to the constabulary from 62 separate victims.

Whilst in the process of contacting Hardy’s victims, he noticed one was a former paralegal named Lia Marie Hambly.

Hambly had documented over 700 pages containing communications from Hardy, which was a massive boost in helping Anderson strengthen the case. 

In January 2022 Mathew Hardy was sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to harassment and stalking involving fear of violence and harassment. 

Even though only nine cases were taken into account during Hardy’s sentencing the definitive number of his victims is likely in the hundreds. 

Anderson told the Evening Standard that there were likely ‘too many to comprehend’.



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