Justin Lee Collins found guilty of harassing Anna Larke

Justin Lee Collins leaves St Albans Crown Court after being found guilty of harassment
Image caption Collins verbally abused and physically assaulted his former lover Anna Larke

TV personality Justin Lee Collins has been sentenced to 140 hours of unpaid work for harassing his former partner Anna Larke.

Collins, 38, of Kew, south-west London, was convicted at St Albans Crown Court of harassment causing fear of violence between January and July 2011.

The court heard Collins had waged a "campaign of abuse", keeping a dossier of Ms Larke's past sexual experiences.

After the hearing Ms Larke said she was "absolutely ecstatic" at the verdict.

In a statement, Collins' publicist said the star was "extremely disappointed by the verdict".

"He will consider his position with his lawyers," the publicist said.

Justice John Plumstead ordered Collins to carry out the unpaid work within 18 months and told him to pay £3,500 in prosecution costs.

Domestic violence charity Refuge called the sentence "derisory" and said it did not fit the crime.

Sentencing Collins, Judge Plumstead said it had not been a "run-of-the-mill case of domestic violence".

"This is a serious matter and any violence within a relationship, where people should be able to rely on each other, is a breach of trust."

Telling the star that he did not think a financial penalty would "meet the bill", he said the community order would be "humble work" for the star.

"It's intended to make you pause and think about what you have done," the judge told Collins.

The jury heard Collins subjected the video games public relations worker, from Pirton near Hitchin, in Hertfordshire, to sustained emotional and domestic abuse during their seven-month relationship.

'Absolutely ecstatic'

The court was told that Collins made her sleep facing him, throw away DVDs because they featured actors she found attractive and made death threats against her.

The entertainer and presenter had denied the charge, claiming Ms Larke was a compulsive liar.

The verdict was returned after nearly 12 hours of deliberation over three days.

The couple lived together in Kew from January to July last year and had a deeply troubled relationship as Ms Larke tried to overcome alcoholism.

Collins did not show any emotion as the verdict was announced.

Image caption Anna Larke had a seven-month relationship with Collins

Outside court, Ms Larke and her family said in a statement: "We are absolutely ecstatic with the verdict and are relieved the jury were able to see through the lies of an abuser.

"We will not rest on our laurels in the wake of this good news and intend to go out into the world and use this experience to empower women to stand up to domestic abuse.

"We will also be campaigning to have emotional abuse properly recognised in law and do our utmost to end the much reported culture of celebrities using their positions to abuse people without fear of reprisal."

She thanked police and prosecutors for their "brilliance throughout" and the general public for their "unwavering support and belief".

Det Insp Justine Jenkins, who led the investigation, said: "No-one should endure this sort of violent behaviour from anyone, least of all from someone with whom they have an intimate relationship.

"I hope the outcome serves as a warning to anyone who thinks it is OK to treat another person in this manner."

Baljit Ubhey, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said there was evidence that Collins subjected Larke to "physical, psychological and verbal abuse".

Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, said: "Derisory sentences such as this simply reflect the need for further training to increase understanding of domestic violence and its impact - domestic violence kills two women a week.

"Until the courts give sentences that fit the crime, men like Justin Lee Collins will get away with campaigns of terror and thousands of women, like Anna, will continue to be at risk."

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