Gardener, 53, accused of stalking ITV News presenter Isla Traquair claims she was fixated with him


Gardener, 53, accused of stalking ITV News presenter Isla Traquair tells court SHE became fixated with HIM during lockdown

  • The ex ITV News presenter became terrified of her ‘weird’ neighbour 
  • Jonathan Barrett allegedly appeared at her conservatory window at 7am 
  • The court heard Barrett regularly peered into her Ms Traquair’s home 
  • He denies the offence and told a court Ms Traquair was ‘fixated’ on him

A man accused of stalking former newsreader Isla Traquair has denied the offence in court and has insisted to a jury that she was the one obsessed with him. 

Jonathan Barrett, 53,  allegedly became ‘obsessed’ with the ex ITV News and Channel 5 News presenter and researched details of her relationships on Wikipedia when she became his new neighbour.

Ms Traquair, 42, says she became terrified of ‘weird’ Barrett, who she claimed would stare into her conservatory and bedroom and even once came into her house to offer her a sandwich.

The journalist has not returned to her idyllic 1700s country cottage, on the edge of the Cotswolds, in almost a year, having moved in during March 2021.

Barrett was arrested in July last year after he allegedly stalked his neighbour from the moment she moved into the property near the small Wiltshire town of Corsham.

The ex ITV News and Channel 5 News presenter became terrified of 'weird' Barrett who shocked her soon after she moved in by climbing over a wall into her garden and entering her house to offer her a sandwich, the court heard.

The ex ITV News and Channel 5 News presenter became terrified of ‘weird’ Barrett who shocked her soon after she moved in by climbing over a wall into her garden and entering her house to offer her a sandwich, the court heard.

Barrett (pictured) was arrested and released by police, but the court heard that three days later, security camera footage showed Barrett walking around the front of Ms Traquair's home in his dressing gown and taking picture

Barrett (pictured) was arrested and released by police, but the court heard that three days later, security camera footage showed Barrett walking around the front of Ms Traquair’s home in his dressing gown and taking picture

Giving evidence at Salisbury Magistrates’ Court today, Barret said that Ms Traquair was ‘seeking out stories’ while making her podcast, ‘The Storyteller: Violent Delights’. 

Barrett also claimed she showed him images of her art on her phone and ‘there was a picture of her naked’. 

‘I think she’s actually disturbed’, Barrett told the court.  ‘I know she was telling true crime murder stories and I think seeking out stories that send chills down people’s spines has become a fixation for her that she lives on, that fear. 

‘This is all happening during the lockdown period and I think she’s formed a fixation on me that I’m feeding that fear for her. 

‘I think fear sustains her. I’m not doing anything intentionally to feed her fear, she’s just caught in a self-elevating spiral of fear.’ 

Isla Traquair (pictured outside court) suffered nightmares and panic attacks due to the attentions of Jonathan Barrett, who allegedly appeared at her conservatory window at 7am as she was about to undress and on another occasion 'chainsawed' a bush in her garden

Isla Traquair (pictured outside court) suffered nightmares and panic attacks due to the attentions of Jonathan Barrett, who allegedly appeared at her conservatory window at 7am as she was about to undress and on another occasion ‘chainsawed’ a bush in her garden

He added: ‘I don’t know if this is an attempt to defame me, I don’t know if she’s trying to root me out of my property, I don’t know if her friends who are wealthy, if she’s backing them to buy the property so they can knock through or take over my garden which is better than hers in aspect.’ 

Barrett told the court his partner was ‘living in exile’ as a result of the constant surveillance from Ms Traquair and had moved to Holland to get away from it. 

‘She found this highly distressing, me being arrested all the time, being under surveillance, being fenced in, it just doesn’t feel like home being on CCTV all the time. 

‘The back garden being fenced, it feels like living in a compound, it feels like living in a zoo actually.’ Barrett denied ever stalking or harassing Ms Traquair. 

He said: ‘I fail to see how I’m harassing her and I don’t understand why she didn’t just tell me that’s how she was feeling. ‘If I could have taken alternative action that would have made her feel better I would have done, I wasn’t trying to cause problems. 

‘Maybe in her mind [I was watching her]. The fact she used CCTV footage to have me arrested twice and put in a cell, that was awful.

'I have panic attacks, I would wake in the middle of the night. Even if I saw a white van, because that's what he drives, that would set me off,' Ms Traquair told the court

 ‘I have panic attacks, I would wake in the middle of the night. Even if I saw a white van, because that’s what he drives, that would set me off,’ Ms Traquair told the court

‘I can’t even get to my own home without being monitored. I can’t walk down my path or up to my van without being monitored. ‘I can’t go out to my front garden or the back of my property without being under surveillance. 

‘I have never ever seen her naked. The only time was when she showed me her paintings on her mobile phone and there was a picture of her naked which she scrolled past.’

Alicia Doble, prosecuting, said Barrett told police his neighbour was a journalist and TV presenter, adding he knew this because ‘it’s on her Wikipedia page and he looked her up online when she moved in’.

The court heard he told officers Ms Traquair was ‘petty’ and had ‘divorced a wealthy man who runs a hire company up in Scotland’ and ‘because of her job, she knew which buttons to press with the police’.

Ms Doble said he told police ‘he may look through her conservatory window to see if she is home but that is all, he said she has mirror film and blinds and keeps the blinds permanently closed now and he hopes she keeps doing this as he can’t help but look at the conservatory’.

Ms Traquair pictured at the time of her appointment as 7pm news anchor at Channel 5 in 2008

Ms Traquair pictured at the time of her appointment as 7pm news anchor at Channel 5 in 2008

Barrett, who lives in a £380,000 one bed semi-detached home next to Ms Traquair's in the village of Kingsdown, denies one charge of stalking. The trial at Salisbury Magistrates Court continues

Barrett, who lives in a £380,000 one bed semi-detached home next to Ms Traquair’s in the village of Kingsdown, denies one charge of stalking. The trial at Salisbury Magistrates Court continues

The court heard Barrett had been visited by a policeman the previous month, who warned Barrett about his behaviour.

He was told: ‘She feels frightened and intimidated in her own home by your actions.

‘If you keep doing it, it could turn into harassment.’

Barrett replied: ‘For her to say I have been intimidating her is fabrication.’

He also told the officer she wrote ‘murder stories’. Ms Traquair has released a true crime podcast ‘The Storyteller: Violent Delights’.

Alex Dunbass, a long time friend of Ms Traquair, said he visited her in late May last year.

He told the court: ‘I went down, not really knowing anything about what was going on. When I got there Isla was virtually unrecognisable.

‘I have known Isla for a long time, she was a very accomplished journalist, TV presenter and producer, but that wasn’t the Isla I saw.

‘She was an absolute wreck, she was highly emotional, very disturbed… When I got there I was very shocked.’

Mr Dunbass described how, on the first day he arrived, Ms Traquair showed him a guest bedroom at the back of the house and he saw Barrett looking into her garden and conservatory from the edge of his property.

‘She went ‘shhh, he’s out there now’ and ducked down.

‘I looked out the window and Isla’s neighbour was stood at the bottom of the garden and looking over the wall down into her garden and conservatory.

‘It was Isla’s reaction that was very telling to me, she immediately looked like she was triggered. She was very disturbed.

‘He was leaning and craning and looking into Isla’s conservatory.’

Mr Dunbass also recalled times he said Barrett was listening to him and Isla through a window as they ate.

‘She would go ‘shhh he’s there and we would just go quiet and I could see reflected through the glass I could see the neighbour hobbling around outside in a way I thought was unusual… I just found it disconcerting.

‘This was unusual behaviour having someone out there looking like they are leaning and listening. I can’t tell you exactly what that gentleman was doing but it looked very odd to me, it was very close to the window and it felt like we were being listened to.’

Alistair Traquair, Ms Traquair’s older brother, told the court he fitted a security camera to the back of her house in June, on the advice of the police.

He said: ‘[Barrett] came around his back garden while I was hanging out the window fitting the camera on the outside wall.

‘He was staring at me. I could describe it as fizzing on the inside – he was absolutely furious, I could tell.

‘I described it at the time as a caged lion pacing back and forth. I wasn’t fearful of attack or anything but it was intimidating.’

Barrett denies one charge of stalking.

The trial continues.

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