BBC presenter jailed for three months after breaking court order

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The BBC radio presenter Andy Kershaw was jailed yesterday for three months after admitting breaking a restraining order involving the mother of his two children for the second time.

Kershaw, 48, had pleaded guilty to the offence at the High Bailiff's Court in Douglas, Isle of Man, at an earlier hearing. The court was told that, in November, he breached the restraining order preventing him from contacting or approaching his former partner, Juliette Banner.

Passing sentence yesterday, the High Bailiff, Michael Moyle, told Kershaw that his life was turning into a Greek tragedy. "You seem hell-bent on destroying yourself and you do not seem to appreciate that the author of your destruction is yourself," he said.

"I regret that I feel I have no obligation other than to impose custody." He said Ms Banner and her new partner, Jim Imrie, a prison officer from Glasgow, were, "entitled to be protected from your unlawful activities".

Ms Banner described the Radio 3 DJ as "menacing and provocative" when he approached her and Mr Imrie near their home in Peel on 2 November last year. Kershaw, originally from Rochdale, was described as "hyper" as he walked up to the couple, glared at them, then circled them and walked in front of them backwards.

He confessed to sending threatening, abusive text messages aimed at Ms Banner, Mr Imrie, and Ms Banner's children, Dolly, eight, and Sonny, 10. He also admitted being drunk and disorderly outside Peel police station on 7 November.

Kershaw moved from London to the Isle of Man with Ms Banner, his partner of 17 years, in 2006. A restraining order was imposed last August after a dispute over their children. Ms Banner moved out of their family home, a nine-bedroom Victorian villa on Peel seafront, taking the children with her to a small terraced house 150 yards away. Two months later Kershaw was spared jail after admitting breaching the order, as well as drink-driving.

He then appeared in court again in November, charged with breaching the restraining order for the second time. At a hearing in December, High Bailiff Moyle warned him that prison was a "real possibility" and to "have your bags packed".

The case concludes a remarkable fall from grace for the DJ, who is best-known for championing world music.

Originally from Rochdale, in Greater Manchester, Kershaw studied politics at Leeds University and got his first job in broadcasting at Radio Aire in Leeds.

In 1984, at the age of 24, he moved to London and found work as driver and roadie for the singer/songwriter Billy Bragg. The following year, the BBC gave him his own show on Radio 1, and he went on to win several Sony Awards. He moved to Radio 3 in 2001 and won a Sony gold award for his report on the Festival of the Desert in Mali in 2004. He also reported from Rwanda during the genocide in 1994, and made a film for Channel 4 from North Korea, the first by a foreigner.

High Bailiff Moyle told Kershaw yesterday that the restraining order against him would remain in place.

Nigel Cordwell, Kershaw's lawyer, said the former DJ would accept the decision to imprison him "stoically". He said Kershaw was trying to tackle his alcoholism, and had abstained for some time. "It is devastating to Mr Kershaw that he finds himself in this humiliating situation," Mr Cordwell said.