Stalker targeted radio celebrities before death

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The Independent Online
A BUSINESSMAN accused of stalking the television presenter Ulrika Jonsson also bombarded Terry Wogan and other BBC Radio 2 personalities with bizarre letters and gifts before his death last month, it emerged yesterday.

Mr Wogan, Ken Bruce and Alex Lester realised that they had all been pestered by Nicholas Rathbone, 40, a Cheshire company director, when they heard reports of his death yesterday.

Mr Rathbone's body was found near his car on 20 January. He was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning. He had been due to appear before Maidenhead magistrates' court on Thursday on charges of stalking Ms Jonsson.

Mr Rathbone met Mr Wogan and his radio show producer, Paul Walters, three years ago, during an outside broadcast in Crewe. Then the letters started. Mr Walters now has a whole box file, including a manuscript of a book. "I call it the Rathbone file," he said. "Terry said to me: `One day this guy will do something silly. He will either come down here and stick a knife in me or kill somebody or something.' I stopped showing them to him after a while."

All beautifully word-processed in a distinctive italic typeface, they revealed Mr Rathbone believed the songs Mr Wogan played on his show contained secret messages for him alone. "Once or twice he didn't like the message, and he would write something rather vitriolic," Mr Walters said.

Mr Rathbone also repeatedly sent faxes to the late-night radio presenter Alex Lester, which revealed his fixation with a woman whose rejection he could not accept. It was only recently that Mr Lester realised that the woman was Ms Jonsson.

"He seemed to be fixated with a woman who he imagined had given him the come-on through something she said on TV. I had no idea who he meant. It seemed to me he had been rejected and could not understand it," Mr Lester said.

"The next thing I knew, I got a letter with an enclosure which he asked me to deliver to Ulrika." He did not pass it on.

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