A former national TV news anchor wept as she told a court her ‘obsessed’ next door neighbour ‘terrorised’ her so badly she has had to move out of her own home.
Isla Traquair 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.
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.
Isla Traquair 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
Barrett 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 pictures
It was also alleged he would stand outside and stare directly into the bedroom window of her idyllic 1700s country cottage, on the edge of the Cotswolds.
The 42 year old journalist became so fearful she she spent thousands of pounds fortifying her home with fences and security cameras before eventually fleeing. She has not returned to her home in almost a year.
Ms Traquair, originally from Aberdeen, recently worked on the Oprah Winfrey Network in the United States and released a true crime podcast, ‘The Storyteller: Violent Delights’.
Her appointment as 7pm news anchor at Channel 5 in 2008 sparked an age discrimination claim by Selina Scott, who reportedly won £250,000 when she was lined up for maternity cover of Natasha Kaplinsky before the younger, ‘glamorous’ Ms Traquair got the job instead.
Magistrates heard 53 year old Barrett ‘terrorised’ her 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,
Alicia Doble, prosecuting, told Salisbury Magistrates Court, in Wiltshire: ‘She 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 told the court: ‘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.
‘There were periods of time I moved away and hoped the police would have another word with him.
‘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 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 in the middle of the night. Even if I saw a white van, because that’s what he drives, that would set me off.
‘I was scared of him, I wanted to avoid him at all costs, his behaviour was frightening to me.
‘I left my home and I honestly just tried to bury all this. It breaks my heart I can’t live in my own home.’
Ms Traquair bought the house in January 2021, as she wanted to move back to Britain from America to live closer to her mother who was ill, and then moved in in March that year.
That month, Ms Traquair was in the middle of renovating the house when Barrett jumped the wall separating their back gardens.
She said: ‘I was doing renovations so I didn’t lock the doors necessarily. He came in my property and said “You haven’t eaten today have you? I have some salmon, I’ll make you a sandwich.”‘
When she moved in, Ms Traquair said her bathroom wasn’t working so she would wash in the sink but Barrett would stand in his own garden and watch her.
‘I washed my face and was about to take my clothes off so I could wash my underarms and John was standing directly outside my conservatory facing me. I saw him and got a real fright. This was deeply disturbing, I immediately ducked down.
Ms Traquair told the court that Barrett stared into her Cotswolds home ‘an unmentionable number of times – pretty much every day’
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
‘Regardless of whether or not I had my clothes on, he shouldn’t be standing there staring into my property at 7am.
‘There were many incidents before and after that. I started keeping a diary when the alarming things happened.’
The court heard Ms Traquair filmed Barrett peering through her window into her lounge where she was sitting for 40 minutes in April.
She said: ‘This was not the first time it happened. I eventually put a blind to block the entire window.
‘It got to the point where I would just go to another part of the house.’
In June Ms Traquair put up bamboo screening to shield her conservatory from Barrett’s garden, but later that day she returned home to find a bush on her property had been ‘chainsawed’ and was left ‘all jagged’.
Police spoke to Barrett later that month but Ms Traquair told the court this did not deter him and he continued looking into her house.
She had a fence and security cameras put up after this, on the advice of police, but Barrett kept ‘interrupting’ and ‘intimidating’ the workers putting them up by staring at them.
The journalist said she captured footage of him later that month standing at his van and staring into her bedroom window.
Ms Traquair told the court: ‘This happened an unmentionable number of times – pretty much every day.
‘I can clearly see he is looking down towards my bedroom. If I had my blinds open, which I obviously didn’t, he could see someone on my bed.’
In July, Ms Traquair said she even noticed Barrett following her in his van while she was driving home.
In an effort to avoid arriving at the same time so she would not have to speak to him, she instead drove to a nearby farm shop but said Barrett followed her.
She said she waited in the car park for several minutes but Barrett also stayed in his car. When she started her car up again she said he ‘shot off’ straight away.
Barrett was arrested and released by police but three days later, security camera footage showed Barrett walking around the front of her home in his dressing gown and taking pictures, the court heard.
The ‘last straw’ came in September. Ms Traquair said: ‘It was the evening, it was dark and I became aware of banging noises upstairs on the exterior wall so I don’t know if a ladder was involved.
‘This was really quite traumatic… There had been stones thrown at my bedroom window at night before as well.
‘This man had been terrorising me… I was scared. I phoned my friend, her husband came to pick me up and I just left.
‘That was the last time I stayed in my house.’
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 continues.