Here's the deal. I've been single since time immemorial. So, in an attempt to remedy my eternal singledom, and to get over my nauseatingly pathological fear of dates, I've decided to challenge myself. The challenge? To go on one first date a week for a year! So in 52 weeks time, I will have either found my Mr Right, or I'll stay forever Miss Write. This is what happens...


The Rules

Here are the rules to the 52 First Dates challenge...

1. A first date must be had once a week, EVERY week, for 52 weeks.

2. Taking someone home after a drunken night on the cider does NOT count, otherwise this challenge would just be slutty, and none of us want that do we?!?

3. Second and third dates are allowed, I must continue first dates unless there are exceptional mitigating circumstances. For example, God forbid, the start of a relationship.

4. Each date must be blogged.

07 July 2013

Closure at last - The real 'Sebastian Pritchard-Jones'

It's been over two years coming, and it's a conclusion I never thought I would ever reach, but thanks to a tremendous amount of help from readers and of course the many many other victims, we finally got to the bottom of the person behind this ongoing nightmare. We found Sebastian Pritchard-Jones / Harvey Tudur-Jones / Harry Thomas. And, with the help of Observer Magazine, I went to meet them.

As a bit of background, the Observer got in touch last November, which is why I've not written about Seb since, and for the last 9 months, writer Tom Lamont has had to wrap his brain about the insane web of lies of Seb, to come up with the following piece. It has been well worth the wait, because for me it is closure, closing the door on something that has taken over my life for the last two years, and I can only hope that it goes some way to being closure for the other victims, many of whom have lived with the ghost of Seb for a lot longer.

I just want to thank Tom for the way he handled this whole debacle, his patience with me on our recent visit to Wales, and, of course, for the final piece. I also want to thank the hivemind of 52 First Dates readers who helped me in so many ways with brand new bits of information which helped me reach a conclusion. But most importantly I need to thank all of the other victims for pouring out their hearts to me and bearing with me whilst I waded through this all. We got there in the end. And I could not have done it without each and every one of you. You know who you are. We did it.

I'm very grateful that in two years of working to find the answer to this, that I've not heard horror stories of someone taking their life as a result of this sort of behaviour, as has been the case in some recent tragic examples of cyber-bullying, and I believe that the more people that know about this, the more chance we have of stopping more people getting hurt. So please share, and see it as a stark warning against some of the emotional fraud that sadly goes on behind online dating sites. These rom con artists really do exist. And this is one of them...

So here you go, finally, the truth about Sebastian Pritchard-Jones.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/jul/07/hoaxer-who-breaks-womens-hearts?CMP=twt_gu




40 comments:

  1. I'm so glad that you and the other victims finally have closure. Thank you for sharing this with us x

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  2. Lady you are quite frankly extraordinary. It takes some balls to do what you did and for that i salute you. I hope one day you find your prince charming. x

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  3. I've been following your blog from the very start, and even I'm shocked at this update. But I'm so impressed you stuck with it and found the culprit. That takes some real balls. Well done you. Aimee x

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  4. Wow. Just wow. You are an amazingly strong woman. Most would have run for the hills.

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  5. I can only imagine how hard this has been for you. Butyour bravery will hopefully stop other victims from being duped by other catfish. These dating websites shoud go to greater lengths to protect users IMHO.

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  6. Did it occur to you that rather than humiliating a deluded, mentally ill woman on her doorstep in front of her family that you might just have some pity, leave her alone and get on with your own life?

    Or was the possibility of a This Morning appearance just too much to give up?

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  7. Thanks for your comment Stuart. We didn't humiliate her. We asked her one question, about the name Sebastian Pritchard-Jones, which she refused to answer. We asked to speak to her in private, so we we could explain without having to do so in front of her parents, and she declined. We also refrained from naming her publicly. If we had named her and she had either come to harm or harmed herself, I could not be able to live with myself. She has had ample opportunity through letter, and phone call and seeing us in person to talk to us rationally, and she has not taken any of those opportunities. She is clearly someone who needs help, but to help someone they have to actually talk to you. If you can see humiliation in that, that's entirely your prerogative. But I stand by everything we have done to get to the bottom of this, to provide answers for those who have had their lives ruined by this person, and to warn against it happening to other people. Enjoy your Sunday Stuart.

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  8. Please pardon my language but I think Stuart needs to bugger the hell off!

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  9. Pay no heed to the trolls. What you did was absolutely the right thing, in absolutely the right way. You're a stronger person than most.

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  10. Hello Claire.

    Thanks for replying.

    You didn't just humiliate her, you also confronted her elderly parents at their home causing them obvious and understandable distress. This woman was under absolutely no obligation to answer any questions you or the journalist put to her. You demand rationality from a person who has shown nothing similar in her previous contact with you. She is clearly unwell and deserves gentle kindness and calm understanding. You didn't want to talk to her to offer help; you wanted 'closure' for yourself because you had your feelings hurt. If you fall in love with somebody online without ever having met them then that I'm afraid is your own fault.

    You say she has ruined peoples lives.
    In what I read she did nothing to harm you or anybody else physically, didn't extort money from you (indeed has given a substantial amount of her own money away), and didn't slander your name online or anywhere else. What damage has been done? She pulled the wool over the eyes of some intelligent, educated women who should've known better. One woman going as far as having 'phone sex' and planning marriage with a man whose existence she believed entirely on the evidence of some photographs from the internet. A level of naivety that would stun a teenager.

    And if this desperate lady manages to convince any other women to fall in love with her over the internet then that will be their own fault. Nobody needs protecting from her. She in fact is in far greater need of protection. From unfeeling media professionals who put their own careers before the needs and rights of the mentally ill.

    Regards.

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  11. Stuart, I'm sorry that you don't have anything better to do and this article has caused you so much distress you still need to take time out of your Sunday to write back to me.

    I was not just after closure for just myself, it was also for the 14, yes 14, other people who have had considerable distress brought on their lives as a result of her behaviour. It is also to warn other people off suffering emotional trauma thanks to similar characters.

    You want details of damage? Try people being signed off work from stress. Try having to go through counselling. Try having to move to the other side of the earth to start all over again. What more do you want, someone to have taken their own lives because their relationship was with a figment of someone else's imagination? Well, I'm sorry to have disappointed you.

    I haven't libelled her name, not slandered, because we have not printed it. And why you think I am doing this to 'further my career' is both ignorant and naive. I'm a television edit producer writing scripts for other people's shows. You would do well to know what one of those is.


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  12. Stuart: you're a fucking cunt, mate. Go and get hit by a bus.

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  13. Claire.

    I recognise that tone. And I think I expected better. Certainly better than cheap insults.

    I bet when that appearance inquiry from This Morning or Jeremy Kyle comes along though, you'll accept it won't you? And didn't you start this blog in the hope of a book deal? Be honest now.

    Anyway I'll leave you with the other intelligent well thought out contributions here and wish you all the very best.

    Stuart.

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  14. You really think I'd start abusing commenters on my own blog? You should've taken time to get to know me better. As for the rest, I really can't be bothered to humour you anymore. I hope you've amused yourself sufficiently for now. Goodbye.

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  15. This is a great, albeit horrifying, story. Did you all check the ISP #s?

    From the LA Weekly--2007 story about another strange woman with too much time on her hands, a keyboard and a twisted motive to deceive.

    http://www.laweekly.com/2007-10-11/news/the-life-and-death-of-jesse-james/

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  16. You are a strong, beautiful and very brave woman. What you have done is an amazing thing. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

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  17. Stuart, don't you think Claire and the other victims of this situation have suffered enough without your wrongheaded and frankly bizarre trolling? Claire has rebutted every one of your points here. Claire: don't listen to this idiot, what you have done was incredibly brave and will no doubt help this sort of thing from happening to other people.

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  18. Claire you're a brave woman. Thank you for exposing this woman. I hope your story can perhaps prevent this happening to someone else.

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  19. CTS, you are a superwoman. Big big respect. Gemma xxxxx

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  20. I've got a crisp fiver that says that "Stuart" and "Amy Palmer" are one and the same.

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  21. I feel obliged to jump in and defend Claire from Stuart...I am one of the "victims" if that is what you want to call me. I don't label myself as that, or seek sympathy, I am adult enough to take responsibility for my actions. The article does not go into detail about the relationship for each person, there just simple isn't enough space. If Claire does get a book deal, or This Morning want to cover this story then good for her. She deserves it. Someone has got to get the message out there and doing that involves media coverage. All of us are driven through our pain with one simple outcome, to prevent this from happening to anyone else. Nothing more, nothing less. I do feel sorry for her parents, they deserve to know to try and help her. 14 people have already come forward, some lasting weeks, some months, some years continuing this fairytale relationship. I am sure I can speak for everyone when I say that all our families and friends were deeply affected by this too. The pain of watching someone you care about so much, crumble before your very eyes over something that is so obviously a fraud, and not being able to talk any sense into them certainly took it's toll on my parents. Including family and friends I would imagine that the number of people affected by this runs into the 100's. Let's keep spreading the word to stop anyone else getting hurt. If I ever witnessed a crime, I would stand up and say something, nor would I expect the culprit to have anonymity. This story goes a lot deeper than you can ever imagine and believe me Stuart, it was a crime. I do however, completely respect your views. x

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  22. Brilliant. Congratulations Claire!

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  23. I'll add a fiver as well on 'Stuart' having a close interest in this story.

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    1. Me too! The tone of the messages is strangely familiar!

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  24. this is amazing. claire you are amazing. i salute you.

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  25. Hi Claire,

    Read the story in the Observer yesterday. Really made me sit up and then very much feel for you and all the other women involved. And moreover, left me with a prfound sense of pity for "Sebastian".

    I hope you've found closure now. Well done for being brave enough to share this on your blog.

    Best wishes,

    Ross.

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  26. My jaw is still on the floor. This is incredible. You are a brave brave lady. My heart goes out to you and the other victims. I hope you can now all find peace and happyness.

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  27. Ever visited Pembrokeshire, Stuart?

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  28. To be fair to Stuart, he didn't pick a target unsusceptible to trolling. If he is not a troll he needs as much therapy as that crazy woman. Maybe more.

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  29. Hey "Stuart", you look familiar. I think I saw your reflection in a perfume bottle.

    Get help, "Sebastian".

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  30. For a very similar story, google the name Amy Player/Andrew Blake and read how that turned out.

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  31. Stuart, you say 'Amy Palmer' needs help, so why don't you take responsibility for your personality disorder and get help? If you were just harming yourself with your actions, then whether you seek help is your perogative, but you have cruelly emotionally abused these women to satisfy your needs without the scantest regard for the impact it has had on their lives & their own mental well being. So you have a duty to seek help to prevent you inflicting more pain on other woman and a duty to meet each and everyone of these ladies to apologise.

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  32. I've read both the DM and the Guardian pieces, as well as your most excellent posts. Absolutely chilling. Well done Claire, and all the other ladies who got in touch to help unmask this person. I fell sorry for the lads too, who had their identities stolen, but most of all for the disabled man, whose privacy and trust were so badly abused. His family must be livid. 'Amy' may well care greatly for her disabled friend, but she should never be allowed to use vulnerable people like this ever again.

    To 'Stuart' - Most would agree that 'Amy' is ill, but she has repeated this behaviour so many times, it is obvious that she will not stop on her own without some form of help and support. Therefore those that can offer support need to know in order to help her. That would be her parents, I guess. Claire and Tom did not out 'Amy' either to her parents or the press; 'Amy' hid behind them (as she does behind her many personas) unable to deal with her actions as an adult. I hope that they DO find out and are able to persuade her to seek help.

    'Stuart' stop your victim blaming please. So weak. Who is the 'villain' here? Honest, trusting, patient women on dating websites, or a lying, manipulative, serial cat-fishing troll? Yeah, I thought so.

    Janet

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  33. Hi there Claire.I have just read about your story in the Daily Mail today and decided to try and find your blog to leave a message of support. May I say firstly as an aside that although Ive not had a chance to read 52 first dates, just reading your replies to the emails that didnt make it (internet berating) had me howling with laughter at your witty replies. But back to the story about the woman impersonating a man, what a horrible experience to have to undergo and I do feel that when people commit fraud online, which is what this is, then it should become a criminal offence. Considering as well that there were up to 14 people duped over a considerable period of time I think that person should be jailed, personal problems or not. Second, I think dating websites should legally be required by law to make people provide something specific like a national insurance number or some absolute proof of that persons existence so that it would make it easier for people harmed by the experience to file a report and then the website should by law take down that persons profile if they offend. That should be compulsory I think over paid and unpaid dating websites. I think if a big deposit(refundable after say a year) was required upfront for matchmaking services it would soon weed out a lot of the undesirables. Anyway all the best , Im sorry you & the other ladies had to go through this experience and im in awe of the fact you all tracked down the culprit , there is definitely a movie in that alone. Just brilliant detective work and you should be so proud of yourself for strength of character and great detective abilities.I would hate either of my daughters to have to be taken in by some sicko on the internet
    , it could happen to anyone , thank god you caught yours out and well done.
    regards carol/facebook/anneelk

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  34. Hi Claire, Thank you for sharing this story with us. Best of luck in the future. But perhaps what is really frightening is that "Stuart" who posted here appears to be the Seb character again, making excuses for such shocking behaviour, has this person not learnt? Are they so brazen that even after being exposed they are still posting under false names here?? Well Stuart, Seb or Amy whatever your real name is you should be ashamed of the pain you caused. One victim left the country! Sit down and reflect on the harm you have caused.

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  35. I have a tremendous amount of respect for you for persevering with this for so long, and finding out the answer for the other victims as well as yourself. I can't imagine how frightened you must have been standing face to face with the woman who'd made your life hell. But you did the right thing. Not many people would have been that courageous. I hope you can now all move on and find hapiness.

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  36. I find it hilarious how all this time she (as Sebastian) has been threatening to KILL people but when a young girl and a reporter show up at her she hides behind her parents LOL.

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  37. Whilst I respect everyone's right to comment on this blog, I will not be publishing comments that address Amy by her real name.

    CTS x

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  38. I've had the same experience as Claire and the other 14 women - I think mine possibly predates theirs, starting in 2007 and many things correspond so perhaps it was the same person. If anyone recognizes the aliases Valentino Cicerro or Deacon Wilson I'd like to put this to rest as my encounter has haunted me for years and I too believe that it was a woman pretending to be a man...perhaps she went on to invent a life more closely matched to her own.

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  39. I sort of have to question your efforts to protect this woman. It's great that you have some sympathy for what is obviously a pretty sad, lonely, pathetic person, but at the end of the day she is still a predator who has racked up dozens of victims and ruined people's lives. I am curious if this level of sympathy would be extended if the predator was a man? Or would he be rightfully viewed as a threat and actions would be taken? Because I guarantee this woman went straight back to her old tricks and has victimized more people by now... The only lesson you taught her was that even if she gets caught nothing will happen, so why stop? I think you should have raised more of a fuss, and especially you should have told her parents. Yes it's an unfriendly truth but it's a truth and her behaviour needs to be controlled. I understand your worry about her hurting herself but it's always better to think about the victims than the perpetrator.

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Thanks for reading 52 First Dates! And thanks even more for commenting!

Read some of the emails that didn't make it to the real life date stage...