A stalker who started a fire in the driveway of Denise Welch’s home and left her “terrified” has been jailed.
Toraq Wyngard started a fire in the skip outside the Loose Women star’s home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, in September 2020, Chester Crown Court was told on Thursday.
The TV star and actress, 63, said she was alerted to the fire by her husband Lincoln Townley’s “piercing scream” when a member of the public knocked on their door after spotting the flames.
The court heard that £4,285 of damage was caused by the blaze, which spread to the garage attached to the couple’s house.
Gareth Bellis, prosecuting, said CCTV showed a man in a distinctive baseball cap looking around the property before appearing to pour an accelerant into a skip and set it alight.
Wyngard, 64, was later arrested nearby wearing the cap and police discovered a kitchen knife in his rucksack.
‘This whole experience terrified me’
Ms Welch, who played Trish Minniver in Hollyoaks and Natalie Barnes in Coronation Street, said the incident, “changed” her life as she gave evidence over video-link from the US.
She told the court: “This whole experience terrified me and continues to do so.”
The court heard that the couple now spend £2,000 a month on additional security.
Wyngard claimed to be a press photographer and police found two cameras in his bag, the court was told.
On 10 February 2021, while Wyngard was released under investigation, Ms Welch and Mr Townley discovered the words “Witch” and “Pimp” along with an upside-down cross had been scrawled on their front gate in blue marker pen, the court was told.
‘You have expressed not a single word of regret’
CCTV footage showed Wyngard buying the pen in a nearby shop and writing the graffiti.
Wyngard pleaded guilty at a hearing last September to stalking, causing serious alarm or distress, between 18 September 2020 and 11 February 2021.
He also admitted charges of possession of a knife, criminal damage, and arson and was sentenced to seven years and seven months in prison.
Sentencing Wyngard, Judge Michael Leeming said: “You have expressed not a single word of regret, not a single word of concern for your victims at all.”
He also made him subject to a restraining order, with conditions including not to enter Wilmslow.