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Stay away from star, judge orders accused

PUBLISHED: 15:47 02 April 2008 | UPDATED: 11:34 12 August 2010

A CHILDHOOD acquaintance of an Oscar-nominated actress has been ordered to stay away from her and her agent. Noel Watts, 42, from Nottingham,

A CHILDHOOD acquaintance of an Oscar-nominated actress has been ordered to stay away from her and her agent.

Noel Watts, 42, from Nottingham, was found guilty of harassing Samantha Morton's agent, Nicola Van Gelden, by "frightening" her with texts and phone calls meant for the actress.

He was cleared of harassing Morton, but given a restraining order at Westminster Magistrates' Court last Friday.

District Judge Quentin Purdy sentenced Watts to 12 weeks in prison, but he walked free because he had already served 62 days on remand.

Watts escaped the charge of harassment against former Chislehurst resident Morton because only one text was forwarded to her after her agent decided it was better not to alert her.

The judge told Watts: "This type of offence is serious. It causes people great anxiety. I've seen the witnesses, I've heard them.

"It's clear to me Nicola Van Gelden is a person of some character. She was clearly caused a great deal of anxiety by the persistence of this communication ... it seems to me you knew that very well and continued to communicate."

The judge said the restraining order applied to both Morton and her agent and that Watts faced a maximum of five years in prison if he breached it.

The court heard that Watts sent 40 texts to Ms Van Gelden and made 10 phone calls to her office, leaving messages which were "increasingly annoyed". On one day, he sent nine texts within the space of an hour. Morton first met Watts at a children's home in Nottingham when she was aged 13.

She described Watts, the boyfriend of a friend, at that time as "always incredibly pleasant", although she told the court earlier in the trial that she was intimidated by his warmth and friendliness.

Morton said she had not been in contact with Watts since leaving Nottingham but had received a letter from him in 2004, after more than a decade.

In the letter, the defendant appeared to be angry because she had not got in contact with him, the court heard.

She said she felt "frightened, vulnerable and exposed".

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