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Monday, 10 January, 2000, 14:03 GMT
Newsreader's stalker jailed

Dyer was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court

A man who stalked a television newsreader for 14 months has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Jeremy Dyer, 30, of no fixed address, was told he was an "extremely weird young man" for his campaign against Sarah Lockett, 32, a newsreader with Kent-based Meridian TV.

He was also banned for life from having any contact whatsoever with Ms Lockett or with fellow Meridian presenter Sue Rook.

Dyer: "An extremely weird young man"
Dyer had pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court to harassing Ms Lockett, but had been cleared of threatening to kill her after the jury failed to reach a verdict during a five-day trial in December.

Judge Susan Hamilton QC told Dyer that 80 letters he had sent to Ms Lockett between December 1998 and June 1999 had been "unwarranted and unpleasant".

"Many contained ghoulish and frightening references," the judge said.

"Shortly after you started writing, which was at first anonymous, the letters became overtly sexual and in a crude and obtrusive way.

"At no time has there been a slightest hint of any care, concern or affection for the subject of this correspondence.

Lockett: Had been very frightened
"A lot of the correspondence contained rambling nonsense, but it became increasingly unpleasant and sinister."

The court had heard that Dyer described the murder of BBC TV presenter Jill Dando as "great", and said that every celebrity needed a stalker.

Ms Lockett had told the court: "It was terrifying because I'm in exactly the same position she was. Anyone can follow you."

Judge Hamilton said Dyer had phoned and visited Ms Lockett at work, and had gone to "extraordinary lengths" to get her home address.

She said it was not known what Dyer would have done had he managed to get hold of the address, but that the letters had become increasingly "frightening".

"No woman wants to receive letters with articles and with constant references to stalking," the judge said.

Dyer had made references to murdered BBC presenter Jill Dando
"The ultimate in distasteful references were those relating to the death of Jill Dando and your obvious glee in making comparisons between Miss Lockett and Jill Dando and their profession.

"It would have been impossible for her to tell if you were a timid individual or a mad axe murderer," she said.

Ms Lockett only called the police about the letters after Ms Dando was shot dead in April 1999.

Judge Hamilton said it was unfortunate the police had not been involved at an earlier stage.

"This type of offence is particularly alarming for the victim because in this case, the victim had never had any contact with you.

"It was not someone with whom you had had a relationship, it was just someone you had picked on because you had seen them on the television," Judge Hamilton said.

Sentence welcomed

She told Dyer that although he was "weird", psychiatric reports had not found that he was suffering from any mental illness.

After the hearing, Detective Superintendent Neil Parker, who had led the investigation, said he was very pleased with the sentence.

"The judge has given a sentence that clearly shows that she won't stand for that kind of offence. It sends out the message to people not to do it," he said.

"A custodial sentence in this kind of case in very unusual and obviously we are very glad at the message this sends out."

Ms Lockett, who had been present at the trial but not at the sentencing, also welcomed it.

She said: "I think the court hearing has exorcised the feelings and upset caused to me by this man."
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See also:
12 Oct 99 |  Scotland
Public fears prompt stalking law review
13 Dec 99 |  UK
Stalker cleared of threat to kill
18 Oct 99 |  Entertainment
Stalking the stars

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