Denise Welch: Man jailed for stalking TV star and arson outside home

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Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Denise Welch says Toraq Wyngard subjected her to an "incredibly terrifying and stressful" ordeal

A stalker who started a fire in the driveway of Loose Women TV star Denise Welch's home, leaving her "terrified", has been jailed.

Toraq Wyngard, 64, who was found with a kitchen knife in his rucksack, caused £4,285 of damage after the fire spread.

The former Coronation Street actress told Manchester Crown Court that his actions had "changed her life".

He was jailed for seven years and seven months for stalking, arson, possession of a knife and criminal damage.

The court heard that, just before 23:00 BST on 19 September, 2020, Wyngard started a fire in a skip outside the home the actress shares with her husband Lincoln Townley in Cheshire.

Ms Welch, who appeared via videolink from the US, said she had been alerted to the fire by her husband's "piercing scream" when a member of the public knocked on their door after spotting the flames.

Gareth Bellis, prosecuting, said CCTV showed a man in a distinctive baseball cap looking around the property before appearing to pour an accelerant into the skip and set it alight.

The fire spread to the garage.

Wyngard, of Cannon Street, Salford, was later arrested nearby wearing the cap, covered in metallic pin badges, and police discovered a kitchen knife in his rucksack.

Image source, Cheshire Police
Image caption,
Toraq Wyngard attempted to change his plea after admitting the charges

The court heard that he claimed to be a press photographer after police found two cameras in his bag.

Officers also found a number of cameras, some covert, and binoculars during a search of his home.

On 10 February 2021, while Wyngard was released under investigation, Ms Welch and Mr Townley discovered the words "Witch" and "Pimp" along with an upside-down cross scrawled on their front gate in blue marker pen, the court was told.

CCTV showed Wyngard writing the graffiti and he was also seen at a nearby shop buying the pen.

Ms Welch told the court: "This whole experience terrified me and continues to do so."

"It has changed my life. I have a wonderful life and this man has permanently scarred it," she said.

The court heard that the couple now spend £2,000 a month on additional security.

'No regret'

Wyngard pleaded guilty to the stalking charges at a hearing last September but his sentencing was delayed after he later attempted to change his pleas, claiming he had been "pressured" into admitting the offences, the court heard.

His application to change his pleas was rejected but Louise Cowen, defending, said Wyngard maintained he was not guilty.

She said he suffered from bipolar affective disorder and had been failing to take his medication.

Sentencing Wyngard, Judge Michael Leeming said: "You have expressed not a single word of regret, not a single word of concern for your victims at all.

"Your only concern is for your own interests."

Speaking after the hearing, Senior Crown Prosecutor Angela Rowan said Toraq Wyngard had done "all he can to avoid facing up to what he did" and had "tried to frustrate the court process during the course of these proceedings, causing unnecessary delay".

She said she was grateful to Ms Welch and her family "for showing patience in allowing justice to prevail".

"I hope today's sentence and restraining order gives them some peace," she added.

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