So, yeah, not actually a good idea to turn up outside their house.
A Cooley associate who used a fake dating profile to tell his ex-girlfriend he was “not stalking” her has been convicted of stalking her after pleading guilty.
Matt Howells, who arrived at Wimbledon Magistrates Court in a BMW convertible, is currently on leave from his role in the US firm’s venture capital team.
Howells’ ex-girlfriend dumped him last March when she discovered he had been cheating on her.
The optometrist told police she blocked him on Instagram, did not answer his calls, and arranged for her flatmate to liaise with Howells to return his belongings. When he did reach her on the phone, she told him to “fuck off”.
Howells told RollOnFriday that the Daily Mail's account of the proceedings was inaccurate and misleading, but did not reply to requests to clarify which elements were wrong.
According to the Mail, prosecutor Harriet James described how, when Howells' ex-girlfriend ignored his email asking to meet up, the 31-year-old turned up at his ex's flat uninvited.
According to the Mail's disputed account, on one occasion Howells asked to meet his ex-girlfriend at a pub, which she did, where he told her he wanted to “send her a song he had written”.
On other occasions she came home and found “gifts of flowers, a chocolate bunny and card by her door”, “bumped into him” at her local supermarket, and encountered him again outside their local tube station, where he explained that he happened to be going in the same direction, according to the Mail.
James said that Howells' ex-girlfriend felt vulnerable in her flat as a result of the lawyer's unwanted interest, and that when she once stayed elsewhere, he asked her, “Where did you spend the night? Your curtains were not closed”, according to the Mail.
After she drunkenly contacted him because she “missed him” and then dumped him again after letting him stay the night, he “had a breakdown and started crying”, said James.
Howells' ex ignored his calls several times in May 2022, but that month she matched with a man called 'Jake' on Hinge. In the course of their text conversations she "became suspicious”, said James.
The next day she matched with 'Alex', who claimed to know Howells and told her, “He's a good guy and not stalking you”. Twenty minutes after telling her new suitor that she was sunbathing on Clapham Common, Howells appeared beside her.
Howells was arrested in June and has not contacted his ex-girlfriend since.
“I am constantly looking over my shoulder. I don't know what will make him stop”, she told the court in her victim impact statement, adding that “I don't trust dating apps anymore and I don't trust my friends”, as she requested a lifelong restraining order.
“As a solicitor he is at a high risk of being struck off or sacked from his American company”, Howells’ solicitor told the court.
“He assists his parents and brother, and spends £5,000 per month on other peoples’ rent, and he volunteers with St. Mungo's and Citizens Advice”, said Kevin Smith in mitigation, adding that, “when he landed his current job there were one thousand other applicants for it as well”.
Howells broke down in the dock when Smith outlined his achievements, it was reported.
The solicitor, who pleaded guilty, was given a twelve-month Community Order and made subject to a two-year restraining order preventing him from contacting his ex or going onto her street. He was also required to pay £500 compensation to his ex-girlfriend, plus £85 costs and a £114 victim surcharge.
Cooley did not respond to a request for comment.
An SRA spokesperson said, “We were aware of this matter and now that court proceedings have finished, we will gather all relevant information before deciding on next steps”.