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Monday 27 March 2017

TV comic harassed ex-lover for 14 months after she ended affair

McGrath’s marriage to Nicola was ‘threatened’ but is now ‘healing’
McGrath’s marriage to Nicola was ‘threatened’ but is now ‘healing’

Comedian Rory McGrath harassed a married former lover for 14 months, hiding in bushes and threatening to share intimate photos of her, a court has heard.

The TV star was given a 10-week prison sentence suspended for 18 months after pleading guilty to harassment when he appeared for trial at a court in the UK.

They Think It's All Over star McGrath (60), whose wife Nicola was there to support him, began harassing his victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, when she ended their affair.

McGrath, who also appeared in comedy documentary Three Men In A Boat, originally denied stalking but admitted harassment when the charge was changed.

He was given a five-year restraining order at Huntingdon Magistrates' Court in Cambridgeshire banning him from contacting his victim, her three children, her husband or her current partner. He was also ordered to pay £200 (€236) costs.

The court heard McGrath, of Grantchester Street, Cambridge, became "unstable and tempestuous" after his lover dumped him and asked him to delete "intimate photographs" he had taken of them together.

Anthony Abell, prosecuting, said McGrath first met the complainant in the 1990s and then more recently through work as she was a writer and broadcaster.

Secret

"They got on well and began to exchange messages and their friendship developed into a physical relationship from November 2010 to May 2015," said Mr Abell.

"Both the defendant and the complainant were married to other people and their relationship had managed to be kept secret from their respective spouses."

He said the complainant was "unhappily married" and, while the affair was initially something "they both cherished", she decided to end it as she began to find McGrath "difficult and unpleasant company".

McGrath found this "difficult to deal with", Mr Abell said and, after a series of emails and messages, the complainant agreed to meet him at his home.

"She made it clear to him that their relationship was over," said Mr Abell. "His reaction was to break down in tears and try to kiss her. She made it clear she did not want that."

The harassment continued, however, with McGrath cycling up to the woman and her teenage daughter as they were jogging, causing her daughter to cry.

He "smelt strongly of alcohol" on several occasions, was seen hiding in bushes in a separate incident, and messaged the woman's husband to say he had "mesmerisingly beautiful but quite graphic photographs" of her, the court heard.

In one subsequent message, McGrath said the woman "should contact a lawyer as all this would make a wonderful court case", said Mr Abell.

Angela Rafferty, mitigating, said McGrath had been in love with the complainant and there was a "mid-life crisis element" to it. She said McGrath's marriage had been "threatened" but was now "healing".

Controlling

District Judge Ken Sheraton, sentencing, told McGrath: "This was a persistent, consistent and controlling imposition of yourself on the victim and those close to her."

In a statement read by his lawyer outside court, McGrath said: "This has been a dark time and thankfully it's now over.

"I wish to thank the judge, and apologise to my wife and family and thank them for their incredible support.

"I now want to move on with my life."

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