Page last updated at 15:33 GMT, Monday, 15 September 2008 16:33 UK

Bus driver stalker spared prison

A stalker was given a suspended jail sentence for a campaign of harassment against a female bus driver he became "obsessed" with.

Barrie Bastin, of Lloyds Crescent, Exeter, fell in love with driver Linda Bickham, 47, after meeting her on her bus in the Devon city.

The 53-year-old admitted breaching a restraining order banning him from contacting her.

His four-month sentence was suspended for two years by Exeter Crown Court.

Recorder Stephen Patterson also ordered him to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work.

House move

The court was told Bastin was a lonely bachelor who bombarded Ms Bickham with letters, although she had only met him for a coffee and they did not have any form of intimate relationship.

He drove around the city looking for Ms Bickham's bus and sent her presents including jewellery.

The bus driver changed her routes and a court restraining order was issued, banning Bastin from entering the towns she served.

He tried to board her bus in south Devon and was serving a suspended sentence for this when he contacted her again, the court was told.

The bus driver became so angry and upset by his treatment she considered selling up and moving house so he could not send her any more letters.

Sentencing Bastin, Recorder Patterson said although he did not intend any harm, it was distressing to Ms Bickham and was "clearly an obsession".

"This must come to a stop. She does not want to hear from you anymore," he said.

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