Runaway Rio Ferdinand stalker arrested

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The Independent Football

A woman who vanished from court shortly before she was convicted of stalking footballer Rio Ferdinand and his family has been arrested.

A warrant was issued for Susanne Ibru, 38, after she was found guilty at Macclesfield Magistrates' Court of harassing Ferdinand by repeatedly turning up at his home in Alderley Edge, Cheshire.

Ibru, formerly of Peckham, south London, but now of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, represented herself during her trial and cross-examined the Manchester United and England defender before fleeing the hearing during the lunchtime adjournment yesterday.

Cheshire Police said she was detained in Warrington.

A spokeswoman for Cheshire Police said: "We can confirm that Susanne Ibru was found in Warrington and is currently held in custody."

She is due to appear for sentencing before District Judge Nicholas Sanders but a spokeswoman for Cheshire Magistrates said the hearing had not yet been fixed.

As he left the witness box yesterday, she told her victim: "I'll see you soon, bye."

She then walked out of the court when Judge Sanders said she could not call the star's wife Rebecca, 30, to give evidence.

Mrs Ferdinand had been excused from the proceedings after giving birth to their third child, a girl, at the weekend.

Ibru never denied visiting the Ferdinand home but argued that her actions did not amount to harassment.

But, giving his verdict, Judge Sanders said: "It is without question that it did amount to harassment of Mr and Mrs Ferdinand.

"Miss Ibru, I suspect, will say she didn't know but she certainly should have done."

Ibru made the 400-mile round trip from south London to Ferdinand's Cheshire home on February 21 last year, then again on June 16 and 18, her trial heard.

The footballer told the court he was upset by the "unwanted and unwarranted" visits from the woman, whom he had never met.

"At first I was angry and upset but then disturbed, really, because I have got a young family and this was not the time or the place to be coming to speak to me," he said.

On the first occasion, Ibru disturbed the couple, who were asleep, by pressing the intercom buzzer at the gates to their driveway in the early hours of the morning.

Ferdinand called his club's security, who alerted police, and Ibru left after being warned against harassment.

The second time, the player was returning home at around 8pm when he saw Ibru standing on the road opposite his house.

Police attended again and once more she was warned that she would face prosecution, but she turned up again two days later in the early hours of June 18.

Ibru again woke the couple using the intercom buzzer and she was arrested.

"The safety of my family is as huge to me as it is to anyone," Ferdinand said.

"Then you have people at your door talking about things that don't make sense.

"You want to be left alone with your family."

During her cross-examination of Ferdinand, Ibru claimed they had first met at the home of one of his relatives in 1998 - an occasion he said he did not recall.

The defendant, wearing a short black dress, replied: "I remember that very well - the first time setting my eyes on you, not just in a newspaper."

The prosecution case was that they were unknown to each other, although Ferdinand's mother Janice was briefly introduced to Ibru after a church function in 2003, the court heard.

Ibru managed to obtain Mrs Ferdinand's phone number and would phone her under some pretext, eventually asking after her son.

The footballer's mother soon changed her number, the court was told.

Rebecca Ferdinand was also left feeling disturbed, telling police she was concerned for the safety of herself and her family as it "was not the behaviour of a normal fan".

Ferdinand told the court that the visits from Ibru caused him to consider increasing the security at his house.

Judge Sanders said: "Mr Ferdinand is a high-profile footballer and, whilst there will always be occasions where he is exposed to public and press scrutiny, the fact is that, when he is in the privacy of his own home with his family, he has a right to expect to be left alone."

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