Detectives failed to charge an alleged stalker, allowing bail conditions to lapse and leaving him free to target his supposed victim again, a court heard.

District Judge Joanna Dickens questioned what she described as a bizarre approach by Wiltshire Police to the case.

But she granted the force’s application for a stalking protection order on the grounds it was necessary to keep the object of Michael Daley’s obsession safe.

Gilly Jones, acting for the police, told Swindon Magistrates’ Court 63-year-old Daley first came into contact with the woman while she was working in a Salisbury café.

“He began turning up every day, asking colleagues about her, started bringing gifts – quite valuable gifts – which she didn’t want.

“His behaviour became so bad she dyed her hair blonde in the hope he wouldn’t recognise her,” the lawyer said.

She changed jobs but he found her again and would wait in a nearby alley for her to go out at lunchtime.

Daley was arrested last year on suspicion of stalking and given strict bail conditions while detectives analysed his devices.

The bail conditions were dropped in February. Ms Jones said: “As soon as they were the behaviours started again.”

Asked why the man had not been charged with a crime she said the investigation continued and the delay was caused by a need to analyse his computer hardware.

But that drew criticism from District Judge Dickens. She told the police lawyer: “You’ve got a victim saying this is happening, why do you need computer towers? When I started reading this I thought why on earth hasn’t he been charged. I think it’s absolutely bizarre.”

She added of the stalking protection order application: “I don’t think these civil orders should be used as a way of circumventing prosecuting or a long term restraining order or as a way of getting round the issue of issue of the need to prosecute.”

Ms Jones said the police intended to charge Daley.

The judge made the order, which will run indefinitely. It prevents him from contacting his alleged victim and going to Neal’s Yard in Market Place, Salisbury.

Daley, of Bourne Avenue, Salisbury, was not present in court for the hearing.

A Wiltshire Police spokeswoman said she could not comment on the particulars of the case, but the force took reports of stalking and harassment incredibly seriously. "We are committed to using all the measures available to us – including Stalking Protection Orders – to both protect victims and bring offenders to justice.”