Traquair Island: Gardener convicted of stalking Scottish TV news anchor

Traquair Island suffered nightmares and panic attacks due to the attentions of Jonathan Barrett, who stared into her bedroom window and ‘chain-sawed’ a bush in her garden.

The ex-Grampian, ITV and Channel 5 news presenter said Barrett ‘terrorised’ her for seven months between March and September 2021 after she moved into a 1700s cottage on the edge of the Cotswolds.

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Ms Traquair, 42, became terrified of ‘weird’ Barrett, 53, who once climbed over her garden wall and entered her house to offer her a sandwich.

She spent thousands of pounds fortifying her home with fences and security cameras before eventually fleeing.

Ms Traquair has not returned to the small town of Corsham, where scenes for hit BBC drama Poldark were filmed, in almost a year.

Barrett, who denied any wrongdoing, was convicted at Salisbury Magistrates’ Court of stalking and told his behavior amounted to harassment.

Magistrate Mina Searles said: “We find that you pursued a course of conduct that caused alarm and distress.

Stalking ordeal: Television journalist Isla Traquair was forced to flee her home to escape the attentions of her neighbor Photo by Justin Williams/Shutterstock (792512f)

“We found Ms Traquair to be a credible witness. In terms of her evidence, we found inconsistencies which demonstrated an obsession and infatuation with [Ms Traquair] over a fairly significant period.

“Regarding the sandwich incident, you talked about Ms Traquair’s energies ‘flagging’ by the end of the day.

“The only conclusion we can draw from this is that you were obsessed and you were watching her.

“On the standing and staring into her property over quite a lot of different times, we find this was loitering and harassment.”

Barrett will be sentenced next month but was handed an immediate restraining order to not contact Ms Traquair or enter or look into her property for one year.

Alicia Doble, prosecuting, told the three day trial: “Ms Traquair is a journalist, a relatively well-known journalist, and it seems when she moved in Mr Barrett took an interest in her and in her life.

“He admits to looking her up when she moved in and seemed to know facts about her she didn’t tell him.

“Over the coming months he became obsessed with her. He would loiter outside her house, look through windows, stand on her wall and look into her conservatory.”

Ms Traquair, originally from Westhill, Aberdeen, recently worked on the Oprah Winfrey Network in the United States and released a true crime podcast ‘The Storyteller: Violent Delights’.

She broke down in tears while giving evidence, stating: “It has affected every part of my life. I can’t live in my home, I have had to stay with friends on their couches.

“I have had nightmares, it’s affected my relationships. When I was in the house I barely went out at all because I was scared I would see him.

“I have panic attacks, I would wake up in the middle of the night. It breaks my heart I can’t live in my own home.”

In 2008, Ms Traquair was caught up in Channel Five’s age discrimination row, which saw the station pay out £250,000 to veteran broadcaster Selina Scott, who claimed she was discriminated against for being too old when the channel chose younger replacements.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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