GB News presenter Ellie Costello has told of the horrors she endured when she realised her ‘sinister’ stalker had tracked her down and was stood just 10 feet away from her while she covered the Queen’s funeral.
The 29-year-old broadcaster said she was left shaking in terror by her stalker – former Airline star Leo Jones who she had interviewed on her show as a guest.
Across a 16-month campaign of harassment, Jones even turned up at the TV studio where Miss Costello works.
But speaking on GB News Breakfast today, Miss Costello revealed how she was even targeted on the day of the Queen’s funeral.
GB News presenter Ellie Costello (pictured) has told of the horrors she endured when she realised her ‘sinister’ stalker had tracked her down and was stood just 10 feet away from her while she covered the Queen’s funeral
She recalled how much it meant as a journalist to be working during Her Majesty’s funeral and how she wanted to ‘do a really good job’.
But recalling the day, Miss Costello said: ‘And as you do in this job, the first question is always “Ellie, where are you this morning” and I said where I was, and it later transpired that he must have followed me from that position that I so publicly reported and I headed down to the Long Walk in Windsor – 250,000 people were there by the way, a quarter of a million people.
‘And I looked up and there he was like not even 10 feet away from my face and he had his hands in his pocket – he’s obviously been there for a while – he had his hands in his pockets, staring at me and just smiling with the most sinister smile.
‘It was like he was enjoying watching me being so uncomfortable. I was by myself. I walked away from my cameraman and that was my fault. And I just, I just went into a panic attack.
Miss Costello told of how because it was the Queen’s funeral she was able to turn to the nearest police officer but she could still see him in her eyesight.
‘I could still see where he was,’ she added. ‘I could not get out my words. I was just having a panic attack.’
Across a 16-month campaign of harassment, Jones even turned up at the TV studio where Miss Costello (pictured) works
Leo Jones (pictured) outside St Albans Magistrates’ Court. The 42-year-old has been given a five-year restraining order forbidding him from contacting Miss Costello
Speaking on GB News today, Miss Costello (pictured ) said she chose to give evidence behind a curtain because she felt he would have wanted to see her again
She told GB News presenters that he was able to escape but was later arrested. Jones was held in a cell overnight and pleaded guilty.
‘And then I was given the choice to speak in court and I chose to because I felt like I let myself down that day,’ she added.
‘Because I should have said something or done something. But I felt like I had so I wanted him to hear what that day had done.’
The broadcaster has bravely revealed her horror story after Jones, who found fame on ITV reality show Airline before reinventing himself as a ‘travel expert’, was handed a five-year restraining order this week.
Jones pleaded guilty at St Albans Magistrates’ Court to causing the presenter serious alarm, distress and mental anguish and was given a 26-week custodial sentence, suspended for two years, and a five-year restraining order.
Miss Costello chose to give evidence behind a curtain because she felt he would have wanted to see her again.
‘I think I feel like that was something he would have wanted, to see me or be close to me, or something like that,’ she said.
‘So I didn’t want him to have that but I did want him to hear what had done to me.’
She decided to jot down notes and speak about the paranoia and how after that particular incident she could ‘see him everywhere’.
Jones, a self-styled ‘travel expert’ appeared on GB News where he was interviewed by Miss Costello (pictured)
Miss Costello (pictured) says she received creepy messages from Jones, which continued even after she told him to stop
Jones began to send creepy messages after being interviewed by Miss Costello on GB News (pictured)
‘Walking from home one day I turned right, because I was almost certain that the man walking behind me was this person and I hid in my neighbour’s driveway just to protect myself from this man,’ she said.
‘It wasn’t even him. The man who walked past was someone else.’
Jones shot to fame in Airline, which ran for eight years to 2006 and followed the lives of EasyJet workers through the highs and lows of airport dramas, making them small-time stars.
He latterly presented himself as a ‘travel expert’, analysing the industry under Covid-19 travel restrictions and was first interviewed by Miss Costello on GB News in August 2021.
Following the broadcast the pair exchanged messages thanking one another but nothing further.
He was interviewed by Miss Costello again in October that year, after which he suggested they should present a travel show together before later telling her: ‘I love seeing you in the morning X’
When she didn’t respond he followed up with ‘you take my breath away’ and then, over the next three days ‘You motivate me beyond words’, ‘I love seeing you’, and ‘You are my sunshine I love you’.
When Jones then asked: ‘How long do I have to wait to see you it is driving me insane,’ Miss Costello finally replied, telling him: ‘Please stop messaging me it is beyond inappropriate.’
But the court heard the messages only stopped for three months before Jones, using a separate Instagram account, says: ‘I know I’m not supposed to message you but thank you for everything you do for the travel industry,’ followed by ‘No one will ever come close to you’.
Miss Costello then blocked all his social media accounts from contacting hers.
Jones, pictured here on GB News, was given a 26-week custodial sentence, suspended for two years, and a five-year restraining order at St Albans Magistrates’ Court today
In June this year, Jones turned up at the GB News studio in Paddington asking whether she is available before later sending flowers with a message: ‘Something to say a good morning from Leo X.’
Miss Costello also received an email from Mr Jones through her website that read: ‘Ellie I don’t want to be like a stalker I have feelings for you you have been pivotal on my journey’.
Miss Costello has described the aftermath of the 16-month horror as ‘living with an illness’.
She said: ‘It’s not a serious illness but like a cold, you know, like the symptoms were always there, it is almost a part of you and you’re so used to it and being on edge and looking around and feeling nervous that people approach you.’
Leo Jones (pictured) shot to fame after appearing on ITV reality show Airline, which followed staff at easyJet
Miss Costello spoke about how when she now gets approached by people saying, ‘Hi Ellie!’ she is paranoid about who they might be or what they want with you.
The broadcaster also said that did not know her story was going to be in the newspapers. She added: ‘I have never really spoken about what happened to me. I mean, I’ve intentionally not really told my family anything so I wanted to protect them. Only a very close circle of people knew.’
She believes that it’s not necessarily a bad thing now because everyone has been ‘so supportive and kind’. But she added that she was worried how she would be perceived by people.
Miss Costello shared how since speaking to other people, including her friends, she has realised stalking is ‘so commonplace’ but that people do not think they will be taken seriously by police.
Jones’ sentencing comes as campaigners launched a ‘super complaint’ over police forces in the UK allegedly failing to protect women from stalkers, meaning police watchdogs must now consider whether to launch a national enquiry.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which was set up after the disappearance and murder of the London estate agent in 1986, says victims are being put at risk because of ‘systemic’ failures.
Suky Bhaker, CEO of Suzy Lamplugh Trust, says: ‘We support thousands of victims every year across our National Stalking Service and a significant number of them tell us that they are being let down by the police and the courts at every step of their journey to justice.
‘Failure to identify and investigate stalking at the earliest possible opportunity results in an increasing risk of physical and psychological harm to the victim.
‘We hope that the outcome of this super-complaint will result in robust recommendations to improve the police response to stalking across the country which is so vitally needed.’