Stalker is cleared of threat to kill TV presenter

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The Independent Online

A man who revelled in the death of television presenter Jill Dando was yesterday cleared of threatening to kill a TV newsreader after stalking her for more than a year.

A man who revelled in the death of television presenter Jill Dando was yesterday cleared of threatening to kill a TV newsreader after stalking her for more than a year.

Sarah Lockett, 34, a presenter with regional television company Meridian, received more than 80 letters from Jeremy Dyer between May 1998 and June this year.

The letters detailed Mr Dyer's obsession with her and became more sinister in theirreferences and sexual fantasies. Dyer, 30, of no fixed address, also telephoned Miss Lockett at work and turned up at the Meridian studios in Kent on three occasions.

He changed his plea on the fourth day of his trial to admit harassing Miss Lockett. Yesterday he was found not guilty of threatening to kill her when the jury failed to reach a verdict.

After the jury was discharged by Judge Susan Hamilton QC, Dyer was formally cleared of threatening to kill when the Crown decided not to offer any evidence for a retrial.

During his five-day trial at Maidstone Crown Court for harassing and threatening to kill Miss Lockett, the court heard details of the obsessive letters.After Ms Dando's death Dyer wrote to Miss Lockett telling her he was pleased. He said: "I think the whole Jill Dando thing is great. I was hoping a celebrity would be murdered by a stalker and it makes it even better that she read the news."

In another letter he said that the Crimewatch presenter's death seemed like a "waste of a victim" because the killer might as well have kidnapped her or had sex with her.

Other sinister themes included sexual fantasies and his obsession with serial killers such as Myra Hindley and Ian Brady.

In April this year, when Miss Lockett became engaged, she began to wear a ring on air, which made Dyer's letters get worse, the court was told.

Last night Miss Lockett, who presents the regional news bulletin Meridian Tonight, said: "I did not know who he was, he could have been anyone, he could have just come out of prison or he could have been convicted of violent crimes.

"I think the fact that he referred to Jill Dando and sent me newspaper cuttings on her death gave the implication that I might go the same way."

Dyer was remanded in custody for the preparation of psychiatric reports and will be sentenced on 10 January.

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