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Stalked Lucy keeps her licence.

Tv newsreader Lucy Cohen escaped a driving ban yesterday after telling magistrates she needed her car for personal safety because she had been the victim of a stalker.

ITV1 Wales presenter Cohen said she had been left 'nervous and cautious' after receiving death threats and obscene mail two years ago.

The 32-year-old pleaded guilty to speeding at Barry Magistrates Court yesterday. The court heard she already had nine penalty points on her licence and was liable for disqualification under the totting-up procedure.

Cohen, who was caught on camera driving at 42mph in a temporary 30mph limit through roadworks at Tumble Hill, Culverhouse Cross, Cardiff, said, 'I need my car as an issue of personal safety.'

She told the magistrates, 'Two years ago a man was sending me obscene letters, threatening letters with anti-Semitic content. They were generally unpleasant. It carried on for a nine-month period to the date he was jailed.

'That was obviously a very frightening and unpleasant experience for me.'

The stalker was later jailed again and then sectioned, said Cohen.

'But that has left me very wary and concerned for my personal safety,' she said. 'When you go through something like that, you are left with scars.'

She said that she continued to get letters from various people.

'When you are in the public eye you do get people who do fixate upon you and you do get crank calls,' said the newsreader. 'It has just left me very nervous.'

She did not feel confident about using taxis alone and had moved into a flat with secure areas around it, the court heard.

Stuart Hutton, defending, said Cohen had received death threats and 'sexually charged letters that were graphically illustrated'.

He added that people who are recognised by the public can become victims of strangers.

'She does not know who is her friend and who is her foe,' he said.

The court was handed a letter from Cohen's employers telling of their concerns for her welfare.

The magistrates were also told that Cohen, who drove 32,000 miles last year, used her car to do charity work which was encouraged by her bosses.

Chairman of the bench Ian Hamer said the case had exceptional circumstances.

'A ban would lead to exceptional hardship concerning Miss Cohen's personal safety, her having recently experienced serious episodes of stalking and continuing abusive and threatening correspondence,' Mr Hamper said.

Cohen, of Cardiff Bay, was fined pounds 100 and ordered to pay pounds 35 costs, and her driving licence was endorsed with four penalty points.

She was also warned that she could not rely on the same reasons to avoid a ban in the next three years.

A further charge of failing to supply information was withdrawn.

Cohen declined to comment outside court. Globe-trotting reporter:Cardiff-born Lucy Cohen, 32, presents ITV1 Wales' flagship news programme alongside Jonathan Hill.

She joined HTV in 1995 and soon began presenting and reporting for the main evening news. She's done everything from the hard news stories to travelling to Cuba with the Manic Street Preachers, and to Hollywood to see Tom Jones record his video with the Stereophonics.

She also presents ITV1 Wales' coverage of the Llangollen International Eisteddfod.

Lucy lives in Cardiff Bay with her fiancA, TV presenter Rhodri Owen. The couple, are set to tie the knot in June.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 9, 2004
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