Ferdinand's stalker is jailed for harassing footballer at his home

Click to follow
The Independent Online

An obsessed female fan who stalked the Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand was described as a "predatory and manipulative fantasist" yesterday as she was jailed for 10 weeks for assaulting a police officer and harassing the star at his home.

Susanne Ibru, 38, was also made the subject of a 10-year restraining order which bans her from approaching the former England captain, his wife Rebecca, attending any matches at which he plays or entering his home village of Alderley Edge, Cheshire.

As Ibru was led to the cells after the hearing at Crewe magistrates' court yesterday, she shouted: "I stick two fingers up at you" and insisted she would be appealing after being convicted in her absence at a trial last month.

District Judge Nicholas Sanders said he was "concerned" by the defendant's behaviour since she had been in custody. "The pre-sentence report describes you as living in a fantasy world, unable to interpret social situations and boundaries," he told Ibru. "You display a predatory and manipulative lifestyle and try to deliberately mislead interviewers."

The original trial was told that Ibru made three 400-mile round-trips from her then home in Peckham, south-east London, to the footballer's £4m mansion between February and June last year. On the first visit, she buzzed the intercom on the gate of the family home in the early hours of the morning, waking the couple.

Ferdinand, who was born on a council estate in Peckham but had never met Ibru, described seeing a figure wearing a hooded top at the entrance to his property. He observed her movements on closed-circuit television cameras and called the club's security staff, who contacted the police. Ibru was later cautioned for harassment.

On the second occasion, officers were again summoned and she hurled a phone at the star's house, insisting that it belonged to him. Ferdinand, whose three children include a newborn daughter, said the encounters in which Ibru repeatedly demanded to speak to him forced him to tighten the security measures protecting his home. Describing the experience, he said: "At first I was angry and upset but then disturbed, really, because I have got a young family."

Ibru, who was said to be an "accomplished athlete" by her lawyer, Simon Leech, also had ambitions of becoming a sports agent. She represented herself at the original harassment trial, where she cross-examined Ferdinand. He told the court: "I asked if she was a fan and she said, 'no, I'm more than that'." As he left the witness box after answering questions, Ibru said to him: "I'll see you soon. Bye."

But she fled the court at lunchtime and did not return. A warrant was issued for her arrest and yesterday she admitted spitting in the face of the policewoman who discovered her 24 hours later less than 20 miles from the footballer's home.

Ibru was sentenced to four weeks in jail for the assault, to run consecutively with six weeks she received for harassing the centre-back, who on Sunday drew close to securing his fifth Premiership winner's medal with United. The judge said police officers "did not deserve to be spat on" when carrying out their duty.

Ibru, now of no fixed address, has a string of previous convictions, including an attempted wounding with intent, for which she was jailed for three years in 2003.

She was also previously found guilty of carrying an offensive weapon, criminal damage and a public order offence. She said she "bitterly regretted" struggling with the arresting officers and had offered an apology in the police station for spitting.