Sophie Ellis-Bextor ‘unsettled’ after being bombarded with gifts, court told

Pop star Sophie Ellis-Bextor was left feeling “really unsettled” after an alleged stalker bombarded her with gifts and hundreds of social media messages, a court has heard.

Nishil Patel, 39, is said to have targeted the Murder On The Dancefloor singer, 42, after meeting her in passing in July last year.

The Metropolitan Police are applying for a stalking protection order (SPO) against Patel after he allegedly sent the singer hundreds of unsolicited messages over Instagram.

Patel is also said to have left unwanted presents addressed to Ellis-Bextor at her neighbour’s home and turned up outside the address in west London, between October last year and April.

Nishil Patel leaves Westminster Magistrates' Court in London
Nishil Patel leaves Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Patel allegedly contacted Ellis-Bextor’s husband Richard Jones, the bass player with the band The Feeling, and one of their five children, online.

In a statement made by Ellis-Baxtor, read by Felix Keating, representing the Met, she said: “It had really unsettled me and I want it to stop.”

Ellis-Bextor appeared on the latest series of ITV’s The Masked Singer and has entertained fans by streaming online “Kitchen Discos”, which see her perform songs from her home while surrounded by her family, during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Keating said Patel allegedly left 30 wrapped parcels addressed to her at the home of her neighbour, prompting a warning from police, on October 30 last year.

And he continued to contact her over social media even after she blocked Patel’s account, the court heard.

One message allegedly read: “I’m not allowed to talk to you obviously, but wtf Bexter, peeps are nuts. Don’t worry, I have got your back innit.”

TWG Tea Gala – London
Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Richard Jones (Matt Crossick/PA)

Mr Keating said there was an “escalation in tone” as the messages became increasingly abusive, with him calling Ellis-Bextor a “f***ing privileged bitch”, a “fat c***” and a “fake mother”.

“Since the star of this year, Mr Patel’s behaviour has escalated, not only in the tone and content of the messages, but also in sending gifts by post to the neighbour’s address,” he said.

“He’s progressed to visiting the neighbour’s address in person to give or deliver gifts, with the aim of them ending up with the victim.”

The court heard Patel was caught on CCTV putting a sticker on Ellis-Bextor’s car and placing gifts in her neighbour’s porch.

Patel was arrested on suspicion of stalking after ringing his doorbell on the night of April 26.

Patel, from Chiswick, west London, represented himself in court, and said his mental health had deteriorated after he lost his job as a corporate tax consultant in February last year.

The court heard he suffers from bipolar disorder and has previously been sectioned, and he said the order was unnecessary as he had complied with his bail conditions.

Graham Norton Show – London
Sophie Ellis-Bextor performs during the filming for the Graham Norton Show (Matt Crossick/PA)

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser granted a temporary SPO, with conditions to stop Patel from contacting Ellis-Bextor and allowing police to monitor his use of social media, ahead of a full application on November 24.

She said: “Taking these alleged facts into account, in my judgment it is clearly appropriate that an interim order is made in order to ensure Ms Ellis-Bextor is protected against any further contact from you until a full order can be considered.”

Under rules brought in last year, police can apply at the magistrates’ court for a civil SPO to block alleged stalkers from contacting or approaching their alleged victims while a criminal investigation into their behaviour continues.