The family of Dr Alison Hewitt, who was recently awarded £130,000 compensation from the Home Office, has praised the private investigator who helped bring her stalker to justice.

Dr Hewitt’s mother, Pam, says Tony Smith of Insight Investigations ‘helped save my daughter’s life and probably mine as well’.

Mrs Hewitt commissioned Insight Investigations when she became suspicious about Canadian Al Amin Dhalla, whom her daughter had met through an elite online dating agency. Insight Investigations is one of the UK’s leading private investigations firms and is led by Tony Smith, Vice-Chairman of the World Association of Private Investigators.

Mrs Hewitt passed on the findings of Tony’s investigation to the Home Office, which showed he had a violent past in Canada and had lied about his criminal record to get a visa to the UK but insufficient action was taken.

Dr Hewitt lived in a safe house during Dhalla’s stalking campaign before he was finally arrested at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, where Dr Hewitt worked. Police found in his hired car a loaded crossbow, a large knife, a claw hammer, pliers and bolt cutters, as well as a doctor’s outfit. He also had a van specially adapted with a cage in the back.

Dhalla was jailed in 2012 for harassing Dr Hewitt and setting fire to her mother’s home.

Dr Hewitt, from Sussex, was awarded compensation earlier this month after the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman found Home Office mistakes had contributed to her ‘living nightmare’.

Pam Hewitt said: ‘We will be forever grateful to Tony for the information and support he gave us. I am convinced that Tony helped save my daughter’s life and probably mine as well. The police could not get the information I desperately needed but, thankfully, Tony stepped in and confirmed my worst suspicions.

“Tony was able to get the facts I needed so that my daughter could make an informed decision regarding her relationship. I knew he was dangerous and would probably break her heart but needed some reliable evidence to warn her – this is the point at which Tony came to our rescue.”

The award coincides with the release of new Crown Prosecution Figures showing a record number of stalking charges in England and Wales. Between March 2013 and March 2014, stalking and harassment prosecutions rose by 20% to 10,535.