Justin Collins guilty of harassment

Salisbury Journal: Justin Lee Collins has been found guilty of harassing his ex-girlfriend Anna Larke Justin Lee Collins has been found guilty of harassing his ex-girlfriend Anna Larke

Television presenter Justin Lee Collins has been ordered to carry out 140 hours of unpaid work after being found guilty of harassing his "vulnerable" former girlfriend.

Sentencing the bearded funnyman, who wore his trademark long hair down over his shoulders, the judge told him it should be "humbling work" for someone with such a prominent career in showbusiness.

The 10-day trial at St Albans Crown Court heard that Collins, who made a name for himself as a host on Channel 4's The Friday Night Project, was a controlling, jealous boyfriend who was physically violent towards 38-year-old Anna Larke.

Jurors heard that Collins, 38, subjected Larke, a video games public relations worker, to sustained emotional and domestic abuse during their seven-month relationship, and made her write down in a Pukka pad all her previous sexual encounters regardless of how graphic they were.

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. Collins also stopped Ms Larke using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter after reading her messages.

Jurors were played a secret recording she made of him verbally abusing her during a row. He said the recording showed him at his worst but denied all her other claims, telling the court he had never attacked her in any way and had never hit anyone in his life.

But giving her evidence to the court, Ms Larke said Collins attacked her in a hotel room in Miami in March last year. She had not shown her doctor her bruises because she did not want to get him into trouble.

The 11 remaining jurors found Collins, of Kew, south west London, guilty of harassing Ms Larke after being given a majority direction by the judge on Tuesday. One juror was discharged late on Monday.

Judge John Plumstead immediately sentenced Collins, who appeared in court wearing a shirt, black blazer and jeans, and did not show any emotion as he stood in the dock. The judge told him: "This is humbling work for somebody who lives a prominent public life but the very humility that the manual work should induce will make you pause and think about what you have done."

Collins did not speak to reporters as he left the court. The statement from his spokeswoman said: "Justin is extremely disappointed by the verdict. He will consider his position with his lawyers."

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