Kelly* knew she wasn't imagining things. Her underwear was steadily going missing.
She blamed the washing machine, leading her husband to practically dismantle the unit in an attempt to solve the mystery.
Unfortunately, the truth was far more sinister.
Kelly is a teacher at Tullimbar Public School. In 2017, the school's then-groundskeeper, Maxwell Cook, became infatuated with one of the students, leading him to displays of inappropriate behaviour towards the girl.
His actions brought him before a court, but the magistrate, hamstrung by the law, was only able to issue Cook with a fine and a tongue lashing for good measure.
"You know you've got to move on don't you and not continue with this?" the magistrate said at the time.
"Yes," he responded.
But Cook did not learn his lesson, and his behaviour escalated in a bizarre and alarming way.
In February 2020, Cook was arrested for repeatedly pooing in the backyard of a property at Tullimbar that belonged to one of the student's friends.
During an interview, police discovered a picture of the young girl as a screen saver on Cook's phone and uncovered a fake Instagram account which he had allegedly used to try and track down the girl and her relatives.
"I have a fascination with her, I wish I didn't," the 33-year-old said.
Fast forward three months and Kelly had become Cook's latest victim, although his actions towards her span the course of years rather than days or months.
Detectives from Lake Illawarra carried out a search warrant on March 26 at the Dapto home Cook shares with his mother.
They discovered a bag under the house, located directly under Cook's bedroom, which contained an iPad, multiple keys and eight clear plastic bags containing scores of pairs of women's underwear.
More than 100 pairs were found to belong to Kelly. The value of the good was estimated to be nearly $1,000.
When interviewed, Kelly told detectives her underwear had begun going missing from her laundry and clothesline in late 2018.
She provided police with a comprehensive list of the items that had disappeared, including 4-5 lots of Victoria Secrets lingerie, 8-10 pairs of underwear from Bras N Things and a satin floral nightie.
When shown the underwear recovered from under Cook's house, she identified her belongings in four of the eight bags.
Police were able to identify 103 items as belonging to Kelly through a combination of DNA testing and Kelly's own identification of her goods.
It was further revealed while some of the underwear was clean, suggesting it had been taken from the clothesline after washing, others were unwashed and appeared to have been pinched from a dirty laundry basket.
Detectives interviewed Cook at Silverwater jail this week, where he remains on remand over the pooing incidents.
Cook freely admitted attending Kelly's house south of Wollongong on multiple occasions and stealing underwear from her clothesline and laundry baskets outside the house, attributing his behaviour to a "sexual fetish".
He will face court again in two weeks.
Maxwell Cook was working as a groundskeeper at Tullimbar Public School in 2017 when he became infatuated with a young female pupil, regularly approaching her in the playground.
At one stage, he gave her money and a picture of a horse he'd drawn for her, prompting the girl's parents to lodge a complaint with the school.
"The principal spoke to [Cook] about his behaviour and was told to stay away from the young girl," police wrote.
However, police said Cook's behaviour continued and the principal lodged a complaint with his employer, Spotless Group.
The court documents did not reveal the date the complaint was lodged, but said Cook left his job at the school in Term 1 of 2017.
However, the court heard Cook returned to the school grounds after hours a few months later around the time of the girl's birthday.
He gained access to her classroom, blew up balloons in the colour of her favourite football team and wrote "Happy Birthday" followed by her name on the whiteboard. He also left a red rose and a birthday card on her desk. The card was signed with a love heart and "Max".
Police were called to the school when the classroom teacher discovered the set up and were informed of the "developing pattern" of "inappropriate" behaviour on Cook's behalf.
When later questioned by police, Cook claimed he had simply been motivated by friendship: "I just like the girl", he told officers.
Cook was charged with entering enclosed lands after admitting he did not have permission to be at the school.
He pleaded guilty to the fine-only offence in Albion Local Court and was ordered to pay $500.
Cook has admitted pooing in the backyard of a house at Tullimbar on four separate occasions, which police claim is part of a sinister stalking plot revolving around his ongoing obsession with a primary school student.
Despite being criminally reprimanded for his actions at the time, Cook maintained his infatuation with the child and even expanded it more recently to include her friends and teachers.
Court documents said human faeces had been found in the backyard of a Tullimbar property, where one of the girl's friends lived, on at least four occasions between September 2019 and February 2020.
Her parents subsequently installed CCTV cameras.
The father told police he noticed a man in the backyard just before 8.30pm one Saturday evening but the figure ran off when the father went to investigate. He rang police to report the incident and gave them a detailed description of what the intruder was wearing.
Officers patrolled the area a short time later and discovered Cook walking down the next street. They said he appeared sweaty, out of breath and had the same clothing as described by the father in the triple zero call.
Cook initially denied committing any offence however later made "full and frank" admissions to jumping a side gate to gain entry to the property and defecate in the backyard.
When questioned by police, Cook said he exercised at Tullimbar most evenings, despite living 14km away in Dapto, and chose that particular house because "it appeared dark and looked like an ideal location to defecate" when he was out jogging and needed to relieve himself.
He was advised of the link between the house and the girl with whom he was infatuated, but dismissed it as simply a "coincidence".
However, police discovered a picture of the young girl as a screen saver on Cook's phone and uncovered a fake Instagram account which he had used to try and track down the girl and her relatives.
"I have a fascination with her, I wish I didn't," he said.
Cook was arrested and charged with four counts of entering enclosed lands and three counts of intimidation, to which he has pleaded guilty.
He is expected to face sentencing in July.
*Not her real name