Stalker handed restraining order over ‘obsession' with presenter Matthew Wright
An “obsessed” stalker who bombarded television presenter Matthew Wright and his family with messages demanding to speak with him and look after his baby has been banned from contacting them in future.
So-called “superfan” Michelle Ranicar, 54, was said to have repeatedly visited Mr Wright’s home in Primrose Hill, London, bearing gifts and messages declaring her love for him, after she was barred from being a guest in the audience of his chat show due to security concerns about her behaviour towards the presenter.
Her seven-month stalking campaign was brought to an end in May 2019, when she was arrested after turning up at the Wrights’ home and telling his wife, new mother Amelia Wright: “Amelia, I want to see the baby.”
Describing the couple’s ordeal prosecutor Rebecca Foulkes told Wood Green Crown Court on Tuesday: “They both live in fear of what Michelle Ranicar may do to their baby.”
The judge, Jeremy Benson QC, sentenced Ranicar to a three-year community order and a restraining order for one count of stalking.
He said: “You must understand that the cumulative effect on Mr and Mrs Wright was that they were fearful, didn’t feel safe, they were worried about their baby, and they were worried about what you might do.
“Over a long period of time, you made their lives a misery.”
Ranicar, of Uxbridge in west London, thanked the judge as she was told she would not be jailed.
The Wrights, who married in 2010, became parents to daughter Cassady in January 2019, after trying for a baby for eight years and enduring six failed IVF attempts.
The court heard that Ranicar, who has autistic spectrum disorder and a mild learning disability, was a “regular” on the set of Channel 5 show The Wright Stuff.
Ms Foulkes said: “It would appear that is where her obsession with Mr Wright began.
“She would regularly try to speak to Mr Wright and sent him some cards in which she declared her love for him.”
Ranicar first approached Mrs Wright at a charity event in September 2018, when she told the television presenter’s pregnant wife: “Women your age with IVF babies are more likely to have stillbirths.”
The defendant attended events Mr Wright was due to appear at, such as rallies and charity functions, as well as at his new workplace, talkRadio, where she was told to leave and escorted from the building.
The court heard that Ranicar then discovered where Mr Wright lived, and turned up at his home unannounced.
On one occasion in early January 2019, she shouted through the letterbox at his heavily pregnant wife: “When is the baby due? Which hospital? Let me look after her.”
The matter was reported to police, but the Wrights decided not to press charges following their child’s birth later that month, as they “felt sorry for her”, the court heard.
But Ranicar reignited her stalking campaign in April, appearing at the Wright family home and shouting: “Amelia, I want to see the baby.”
She also tried to take a picture on her mobile phone through the letterbox, the court heard.
Ms Foulkes said: “Mrs Wright felt vulnerable in her own home, and described it as emotional torture.
“She cancelled medical appointments to the detriment of her own health because she was worried about going out.
“Mr Wright felt vulnerable, terrified and scared – he felt there was nowhere he could go locally without looking over his shoulder.
“He didn’t feel safe any more because she (Ranicar) could turn up unannounced.”
Mr and Mrs Wright were not in court for the hearing.
Defending, Saul Herman said his client “understands the court must punish her for the distresses this has caused”, and added that she had committed no further offences since her arrest.
Ranicar pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.
The judge handed her a restraining order banning her from contacting or approaching the Wrights or their daughter.
He also sentenced her to a three-year community order with a rehabilitation requirement.