A STALKER who threatened to rape a BBC news presenter has been jailed.

Gordon Andrew Hawthorn, 69, sent cards to Points West's Alex Lovell over a period of several years which became more graphic and threatening between January 2016 and March 2018.

As well as using sexually explicit language, Hawthorn, of Street, threatening to commit rape offences.

He was sent down for two years and six months and issued with an indefinite restraining order when he appeared at Bristol Crown Court today (Thursday).

He had previously pleaded guilty to stalking involving serious alarm/distress – an offence under the Protection of Harassment Act 1997.

At today’s hearing, Judge Martin Picton told Hawthorn: "For two years you chose to send disgusting and frightening cards to Ms Lovell. The impact upon her has been enormous.

"People in the public eye are entitled to the same respect and privacy as everyone else in society. The fact that someone has a high public profile does not mean that it can be open season for people such as yourself.

"The cards that you sent were intended to and did cause Ms Lovell both distress and fear. For two years she could never be sure that she was safe.

"What you threatened to do to her was designed to and did cause her to feel disgusted, frightened and miserable.

"The police had to engage in a difficult and costly investigation. They were right to do so – stalkers such as yourself have in the past acted on their obsessions so as to move from words to deeds."

Hawthorn was arrested in March 2018 following a public appeal for information that included the release of handwriting extracts.

A member of the public, who was also sent cards, recognised Hawthorn’s distinctive five-cross pattern and handwriting and contacted the police with vital information.

Following today’s sentencing, DCI Simon Brickwood said: "Gordon Hawthorn is now paying the price for his cruel campaign of harassment against Alex Lovell, which amounted to stalking.

"This case highlights the fact that stalking doesn’t have to be physically watching or following someone. It can take the form of social media, texting, calling, being sent unwanted gifts, or in Alex’s case being sent cards or letters.

"We’d like to publicly thank Alex for her whole-hearted support of our investigation and for her bravery in speaking out about her distressing ordeal to encourage other victims of stalking and harassment to seek help and report offences."

If you’re a victim of stalking or harassment, or know someone who is, don’t suffer in silence. You can contact the Suzy Lamplugh Trust’s helpline on 0808 802 0300 or visit the charity's website.

You can also contact the police on 101 – in an emergency always call 999.