Isla Traquair calls for stalkers register after neighbour harassed her

ITV newsreader Isla Traquair calls for stalkers’ register after neighbour harassed her by chainsawing her bamboo fencing, watching what she ate and coming into her house with a sandwich

  • Jonathan Barrett stared through her windows during six-month stalking ordeal 

Former ITV News and Channel 5 newsreader Isla Traquair who was terrorised by her neighbour has called for the introduction of a ‘stalking register’ to deter others from obsessive behaviour.

Professional gardener Jonathan Barrett was convicted of stalking Traquair after a court heard he stared into the windows of her house, monitored what she ate before coming into her home with a sandwich, and even ‘chainsawed’ bamboo fencing she put up to keep his prying eyes out. He avoided jail time.

Traquair said she now considers the world is an ‘unsafe’ place and disguises herself when she goes out to avoid a repeat of her ordeal.

The stress has led to her hair falling out, she said, and while she is ‘forever changed’ by what happened, her tormentor is free to move on with his life after he received community service as his punishment.

Speaking on the iweigh podcast, the 43 year old said having a stalker was like being a ‘leper’ as none of her friends understood what she was going through.

Former ITV News and Channel 5 newsreader Isla Traquair (pictured last year) who was terrorised by her neighbour has called for the introduction of a ‘stalking register’ to deter others from obsessive behaviour

Professional gardener Jonathan Barrett (pictured outside court) was convicted of stalking Traquair. He avoided jail and was ordered to complete 300 hours of community service and pay £715 in costs

The campaign of stalking took place between March and September 2021, beginning as soon as she moved into the house near the small Wiltshire town of Corsham, where scenes for hit BBC drama Poldark were filmed in the high street.

As a result she spent thousands of pounds fortifying her home and was forced to call in favours to sleep at friends’ houses.

Following a trial at Salisbury Magistrates’ Court last year, Barrett was ordered to complete 300 hours of community service and pay £715 in costs.

He was also handed a restraining order to not contact Traquair or to enter or look into her property for one year.

However, Traquair – originally from Abderdeen – said his life has simply ‘carried on’ compared to the ‘horrendous’ impact it has had on hers.

‘I’m forever changed for sure,’ she said.

‘What I am trying to do, through my work, is raise awareness of how serious it is.

‘I want to change laws, I want to have – there’s been people campaigning for a long time actually – a register for stalkers.

‘That would deter them, in the same way there’s [one] for sex offenders.

‘If they knew they’d end up in a register, they would thing twice about it because it then does actually impact their life.’

On the difficulty of stalking for the victim, she said: ‘What happens is we’re the one that has to move house, go offline.

‘I didn’t post anything apart from the odd random photo of my dog for quite a long time.

‘I used to post that I was somewhere completely different from where I was and then people on social media ‘oh are you in blah blah’ and I had to tell people don’t have conversations about where I am or where we’re going to be online.

‘I had to go private, all that kind of stuff, that doesn’t really matter but when you’ve got a job like mine – I had to change my life in so many ways and move and move and move.

‘When I came back to Britain just after the court case, I stayed in 14 different places, I lost count.

‘I am now in one place, I do feel safe, there’s cameras everywhere, I don’t think he would come here.

Traquair (pictured outside court) said she now considers the world is an ‘unsafe’ place and wants a register to identify people with obsessive tendancies

‘My entire street knows what’s happened to me, so I feel safe, as safe as I can be and I’m not looking over my shoulder.

‘I have a general sense the world is an unsafe space.

‘I feel shaken, my close group has shrunk, I’ve made myself small.

‘I’ve changed how I dress myself, I have my hair scraped back, I rarely wear make-up, I’m trying to disguise myself in a way to not shine so I don’t end up with something like that again.’

On her hair loss, she said: ‘My hair’s fallen out. It’s growing back now, but I’ve had patches at the back.

‘I still get upset, I try not to wash my hair very much, when I condition it and use the comb and see how much comes out, I curl it to make it look like it’s more.’

On the justice system, she said: ‘In terms of criminal justice, we need to do a lot better still.

READ MORE: ITV newsreader Isla Traquair who was ‘terrorised’ by obsessive neighbour accuses police and court system of ‘gaslighting’ her because they dismissed her stalker’s behaviour as a ‘neighbourhood dispute’ 

‘The whole system is set up against the victims, it really is. It is entirely on the victim to gather the evidence, to be a detective.

‘I’m a crime journalist, I was struggling with this and got criticised for this. Unless you have things on video or photographed, it’s unlikely to be proved in court.

‘The charities and the police say ‘do a stalking diary’, that is great, they’re wonderful.

‘[But] the written word isn’t going to do anything in a court of law.

‘Of course, what’s one of the most dangerous things you can do if there’s a man you’re frightened of, doing something that’s frightening – take your phone up and film them. It’s horrendous.’

Particularly troubling for the Scottish presenter was the long-lasting impact Barrett’s behaviour has had on her, compared to the relative ease with which he moved on.

‘He got 300 and something hours community service and a small cost that went to the court and his life carries on and mine does not,’ she added.

‘I can’t even possibly try and sum up the damage it’s done to me emotionally, physically, financially – what it’s taken of the time of my life, the friendships it’s stolen.

‘Because having a stalker is a little bit like having leprosy – people don’t really want to hear or see about it and a lot of people, because they don’t understand the impact, they will diminish out of a good place of ‘let’s be positive’ and ‘try not to think about it’.

‘Can you not just ignore him’, I got told that a lot. The police actually advised me not to overreact.

‘It was a very unfortunate situation I ended up in. The system really is not good enough. There’s just all these victims that are left feeling scared.’

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