A Worthing mum has described the harrowing moment a man tried to gain access to her house in the early hours of the morning, claiming to be from a television show.
Frances Hearn, 26, of Rectory Mews in Worthing, said she was woken by a noise against her front door at 4am on Saturday morning (February 16).
As she approached the door, a man began knocking loudly and demanded to be let into the house.
“I heard a voice say ‘my name’s Lee, I’m on the run, let me in’,” said the mother of two.
“He said ‘I’m from a TV show, the Hunted, let me in, let me in’. I ran straight into my partner – my children were sleeping upstairs.”
Her partner, Ash, turned on the outside light and told the intruder to leave but Frances said he refused, instead standing in front of the door and refusing to make eye contact through the glass.
“He just kept saying ‘let me in’,” she said. “He wouldn’t leave.”
Eventually the man stepped away but began looking around the sides of the house as though trying to gain access, before moving down the road and crouching behind a car.
Frances and her partner called the police, who did not respond to the scene, and the commotion woke her neighbours, who came outside.
At that point, Frances said, the man stood up and ‘sprinted at full speed’ down the road.
The ordeal lasted around 10 minutes.
“I had thought maybe there was something wrong with him or he was mentally ill, but when I saw him stand up and sprint like that I just knew it wasn’t right,” she said.
“I can’t stop thinking, what did he want? What could have happened if I had opened the door? You never think it’s going to be you so I almost opened it without thinking.
“It’s freaked me out thinking what could have happened. It’s the fact that he went to that length of saying he was from a TV show. If he needed help he could have just said – there’s a hospital and police station close by.”
The trauma has left her wary and unable to relax in her own home, she said, but she wanted to use her experience to help other people who may open their doors without thinking.
She said: “There’s a lot of young mums on their own. Not everyone’s got a man around and it’s important that people don’t just open their front doors. I was going to do it because I trusted where I was, but he was a complete weirdo.”
While she could not be sure of the man’s appearance, she said he seemed to be in his late 20s and had a receding hairline.
Hunted is a Channel 4 programme where members of the public have to escape from professional ‘hunters’ for a share of a £100,000 prize. The last episode of the series aired on February 14, the day before Frances’s encounter.
Channel 4 has responded to the incident here: Worthing Hunted intruder: Channel 4 responds to claims contestant tried to enter family home