Louise Minchin’s daughter opens up about stalking
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The ex ITN and Channel 5 news presenter, 42, was terrorised by professional gardener Jonathan Barrett, who lived next door to her near the small town of Corsham, Wiltshire.
Barrett, 54, was convicted of stalking after a court heard how he stared into the windows of Ms Traquair’s house, monitored what she ate and took a chainsaw to bamboo fencing she had put up to stop him prying.
Ms Traquair has spoken out about the toll of the stalking on her mental health, including suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
She said: “One of the problems with stalking is, you don’t have physical bruises as such, but the damage that’s done, it’s a psychological terror.”
She added: “At one point, if I knew he was home or around, I had my blinds shut and I wouldn’t go outside. I was literally a prisoner in my home.”
Ms Traquair was subject to the stalking between March and September 2021, after moving into her home following “unplanned but major renovations” to the property.
She kept a “stalking diary” to record the incidents and recalled one instance where her neighbour climbed over a wall between the properties to enter her home.
She said: “Whenever I came out, he was there. He climbed over my back wall, entered my home through the conservatory and said, ‘You haven’t eaten.’ So he had been watching me. He left and came back with a sandwich and watched me eat it.”
The journalist slept on a friend’s sofa on the first night she was set to move into her home. She said: “My friends bought me housewarming presents that were basically screening measures.”
She later went to live with her brother in the US and paid “thousands” to fly back to attend court.
Earlier this year, Barrett was ordered to complete 300 hours of community service and pay £715 in costs after being convicted at Salisbury magistrates court of stalking his next-door neighbour. He was also given a restraining order preventing him from contacting Ms Traquair and from entering or looking into her home for a year.
But the presenter, who has since moved away from the area, called for the way the justice system handles stalking cases to be overhauled.
She said: “There are specialists stalking units, but only in a few select forces in the UK. There needs to be a specialist unit in every force.”
The Daily Express has backed calls to make public sexual harassment a specific criminal offence through the Keep Women Safe On Our Streets campaign.
The law would cover unwelcome and unwanted attention, sexual advances and intimidating behaviour that occurs in public spaces, both in person and online.
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