A TV weather presenter was stalked by her controlling husband who placed a tracking device on her car to check if she was having an affair.
Jealous Jonathan Wignall, 54, was today jailed for three years for plaguing ITV host Ruth Dodsworth including badgering her at her TV studio.
Ruth, 46, is a regular ITV weather presenter on regional news in Wales and London – and has appeared on This Morning.
But her obsessive husband set an alarm to check her nightly forecasts, rang her dozens of times a day demanding to know where she was and who she was with.
He accused her of having an affair – and would demand access to her phone so he could check her messages and delete contacts he didn’t like.
The former couple were married in 2002. Picture: Facebook
Cardiff Crown Court heard wife Ruth once woke while sleeping to find music promoter Wignall pressing her fingerprint on her phone so he could gain access.
Mother-of-two Ruth broke down in tears as she told the court Wignall had robbed her “of what should have been the happiest times of my life”.
She said: “Because of my television career I have had to try and portray a smiley, happy, sunshine-like personality every day when how I felt was anything but.
Jonathan Wignall was a former nightclub owner in Swansea. Picture: Facebook
“Jonathan’s behaviour has had a big impact on my working life and relationships there have been times in work when I have been unable to keep it together.”
“Living with Jonathan was like constantly walking on eggshells, his temper would turn on an instant and anything could trigger it.”
Prosecutor Claire Pickthall said: “By the nature of her job – a television journalist and presenter – Ms Dodsworth would work long hours, she would attend charity events and she had a social media profile that needed to be maintained.
The court heard how Miss Dodsworth has forged a successful broadcasting career. Picture: Twitter
“She also took on extra work as a presenter on Coast and Country.”
Ms Pickthall said Wignall would go to work with his wife so he could see who she was with but was asked to stop attending the studios and location shoots by ITV bosses.
Ms Pickthall said: “When those avenues of observing Ms Dodsworth and what she was doing and with whom were closed off he would attend the studios in Cardiff Bay, park in the car park and she would have to spend her lunch hour sat in the car, in the car park, with the defendant.
Jonathan Wignall will have to serve 18 months in jail before being released on licence
“When travelling on location with colleagues he would call her incessantly on the journeys, when she arrived, and he would call her – or she would have to call him – in the evenings.”
Ruth decided to leave her husband after 17 years of marriage after Wignall bombarded her with more than 150 phone calls in one day and was arrested for harassing his wife.
But after they split Wignall placed a tracking device under the steering wheel of her car so he could monitor where she was and set alarms on his phone for when she was scheduled to present the weather.
He also left a CD in her car containing a recorded message from a psychic telling Ruth the couple would get back together.
Ms Pickthall said Wignall and Ruth had swapped cars before she realised the Fiat he had given her had a tracking device placed on it.
She said: “There was a suspicion the defendant had placed a tracker on the car she was now driving.
“She was driving home from a relatively remote location and when she was coming back the defendant was seen driving towards her with seemingly no reason for being in that area at that time.
“Because of the concerns she took the car to a garage and staff were asked to look for a tracker on the vehicle as she explained she feared her ex-husband had placed on the car.”
Ms Pickthall said the bugging device was found hidden under the car’s steering wheel.
“Shortly after it being discovered when the car was still at the garage the defendant arrived and demanded to know what work was being done on the car.
“Suspecting he was the person who had placed the tracker on the vehicle the manager told him that the tracker had been found and the defendant left immediately and the police were informed.”
The court heard police seized Wignall’s laptop and phone and found an app linked to the tracking device that he accessed more than 250 times in less than three weeks.
Ms Pickthall said: “Also on the phone were alarms set to go off when Ms Dodsworth was set to present the weather on television.”
Ms Pickthall said Wignall has also left a CD inside the car with a recording of a psychic saying the couple would get back together.
Before they split Wignall would insist on driving his wife to work and would force her to spend her lunch break sitting with him in their car in a car park outside the office.
Wignall, of Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan, admitted controlling and coercive behaviour and stalking.
Dyfed Llion Thomas, mitigating, said: “This is a man who is besotted with his wife.
“He is very sorry for his behaviour.”
Judge Daniel Williams told Wignall he was a “high risk” to his now ex-wife.
“You would call her on the way to work, you would turn up at her places of work and when not with her you would inundate her with phone calls – you expected her to be answerable to you at all times.
“You would open her mail, stand guard outside the bathroom and you went with her to doctor’s appointments.
“She became isolated from her friends and family, you wouldn’t let her travel for work with others.”
He told Wignall: “You affect the air of a respectable, beleaguered, but successful businessman. You’re not; you’re a fantasist with a fragile ego which makes you an unrepentant, possessive bully.”
The defendant, now of Trawler Road, Swansea was also handed a restraining order banning him from contacting her.