By William Janes, PA
A man who sent Sophie Ellis-Bextor “unsettling” messages along with dozens of unwanted gifts could face criminal prosecution if he continues to contact her.
Nishil Patel, 39, targeted the Murder On The Dancefloor singer after meeting her in passing in July last year.
City of London Magistrates’ Court heard he sent the 42-year-old star hundreds of increasingly “concerning” and “upsetting” messages over Instagram.
He also left her unwanted presents at her neighbour’s home – believing it to be hers – including a wallet featuring his initials, and turned up outside the address in west London between October last year and April.
In one message Patel told her “the wallet is blue, not black like your soul”, the court heard.
On one visit, which led to his arrest on April 26, he rang the doorbell and left a sticker on a car, magistrates were told.
Patel also contacted Ellis-Bextor’s husband, Richard Jones, bass player with the band The Feeling, and one of their five children, online.
Prosecutor Felix Keating told the court that Patel left 30 wrapped parcels addressed to the singer at the home of her neighbour, prompting a warning from police, on October 30 last year.
And he continued to contact her over social media even after she blocked his account, instead messaging her under a username which was Nishil Patel spelt backwards, the court heard.
One message allegedly read: “I’m not allowed to talk to you obviously, but wtf Bexter, peeps are nuts. Don’t worry, I have got your back innit.”
At an earlier hearing in July, Mr Keating said there was an “escalation in tone” as the messages became increasingly abusive, with him calling Ellis-Bextor a “f****** privileged bitch”, a “fat c***” and a “fake mother”.
On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Police were granted a Stalking Protection Order (SPO), which means Patel will face criminal prosecution if he contacts her directly or through third parties, physically approaches her, or goes to her address.
He must also provide police with passwords for any devices he owns which are capable of recording internet history, and the passwords to any social media accounts he controls.
The measures will be in place for five years.
A statement from Ellis-Bextor, read by Mr Keating, said Patel’s behaviour had “really unsettled” her.
The singer-songwriter entertained fans during the Covid-19 pandemic by streaming online “Kitchen Discos”, in which she performed songs from her home while surrounded by her family, and, in November 2021, raised £1 million for Children in Need through a 24-hour danceathon.
Magistrate Victoria Fraser granted the SPO after Patel did not contest the allegations. When asked about any objections, he said: “Please make the order.”
The court heard that Patel lost his job as a tax consultant in February last year, suffers from bipolar disorder, and was once sectioned.
Under rules brought in last year, police can apply at the magistrates’ court for a civil SPO to block alleged stalkers from contacting or approaching their alleged victims while a criminal investigation into their behaviour continues.