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A BBC presenter has opened up about her four-year-long stalker ordeal, which culminated in a man being imprisoned after threatening her with rape.
Speaking on ITV’s ‘Lorraine’ show, Alex Lovell – a newsreader on Points West, which services the West of England – detailed how the stalking began with a series of “creepy” cards from an anonymous sender.
“This chap had been writing to me for about four years very regularly, which is very creepy in itself, and the cards that came were always very intense, very suggestive in a sexual way,” she told show host Lorraine Kelly.
“I would always recognise them because they had a very distinctive cross on the back with little crosses in between.”
The situation escalated in 2016, when the sender said his new year’s resolution was to have sex with her, and if she did not “comply” he would “rape” her.
“One day I saw another card, it was the beginning of the year 2016, I picked it out and there was that distinctive cross but inside he wrote ‘my new year’s resolution is to have sex with you and if you don’t comply I will rape you’, and at that moment I just felt that you could have knocked me over.
“I think part of that was not just the threat of rape, but it was how it had suddenly changed.
“It had been perverted for a very long time but it wasn’t out of the blue, it wasn’t just a threat from nowhere, which would have been bad enough and that is still terrible, but it was after a very long campaign of attention and fantasy.”
Lovell was left afraid to go out alone, in case the stalker – whose identity remained unknown to her – acted on his threat.
She added: “You can’t go out on your own because you don’t know what this person is, however they claim to be in their letters that is all you can go on.”
“Of course, your friends and colleagues are going to try and reassure you so they will say he’s probably just some sad person who is sitting there fantasising, but the trouble is you don’t know and you can only try and read into what is written.”
Following a police enquiry, the stalker was revealed to be a 69-year-old man named Gordon Hawthorn.
He was subsequently jailed for two years and six months by Bristol Crown Court after admitting to stalking Lovell and sending her 38 cards via BBC Points West over a two-year period.
The conviction meant Lovell was able to live her life normally again – even buying a sandwich alone was a “big deal”, she explained.
“That moment when they rang me and said ‘he’s not built like the side of a house, he’s not a young man’ (was a relief).
“He said that he’s raped many times before so you’re thinking he’s this big, strong man, he’s probably quite young, mobile, he’s around, and actually he was living in Somerset, he was older, he didn’t drive.
“All those threats just melted away and I was so happy.
“I went out on purpose on my own at lunchtime just to get a sandwich because it was such a big deal to be able to do that, although you’re still a bit nervous because you can’t just let it go, but it was completely different from that day.”