Artist, 81, known as ‘The Original Banksy’ is jailed for four years over terrifying 13-year stalking campaign against life model ex-girlfriend, 51
- Prolific stalker Walter Kershaw, 81, hounded Catherine Mitchell since 2008
- The British artist dubbed ‘the original Banksy’ was jailed for four years at court
- His 13 year ‘predatory campaign’ saw multiple breaches of restraining orders
- The couple’s affair began after life model Mitchell, 51, asked for her portrait
- Kershaw started tracking his ex-lover after their failed 12-month relationship
A popular British painter has been jailed for four years after a ‘predatory stalking campaign’ dating back to 2008.
Walter Kershaw, 81, who was dubbed Britain’s ‘original Banksy’, repeatedly hounded Catherine Mitchell, 51, after their affair ended in 2007.
Rochdale-born Kershaw conducted a ‘predatory’ stalking campaign lasting 13 years, which included pursuing his ex-lover around their hometown and telling her she was beautiful.
The painter would also send life model Mitchell love letters and romantic cards and would drive slowly passed her home blowing kisses at her.
Despite Mitchell’s best efforts, which included taking taxis around town and using muddy fields at the back of her home, she could not avoid her prolific stalker.
Kershaw was jailed for four years at Minshull Street Crown Court after admitting to breaching his restraining order and stalking.
English painter Walter Kershaw, 81, (above) was once dubbed ‘The Original Banksy’, but the disgraced artist was jailed for four years after he admitted breaching his restraining order and stalking his ex-lover
The couple’s relationship began in 2006, after former life model Mitchell asked ‘unpredictable and controlling’ Kershaw to paint her portrait.
The following year she broke up with Kershaw after she was hit by a motorbike and suffered life-threatening brain and leg injuries in a collision outside his gallery.
But Kershaw – who once counted George Best and Bob Monkhouse as friends – continued pursuing Miss Mitchell around the town and put an oil portrait in the front window of his art gallery in Littleborough, Greater Manchester.
The court heard how he would drive past Miss Mitchell’s home on a regular basis, and would blow kisses towards her and also sent her love letters and cards.
He began to attend church where she and her mother were members of the congregation and appear regularly in their local supermarket.
When Miss Mitchell moved out of her mother’s house into her own place, he would turn up on her doorstep uninvited and ask to take her out.
Police issued Miss Mitchell with a hand-held panic alarm and she used it when he turned up outside the house.
Eventually in January 2009 he was spoken to by police and warned not to contact her and in the following year Kershaw was instructed not to contact Miss Mitchell and her mother.
In 2013, the father of two was ordered to pay the two women compensation after he approached Ms Mitchell as she was sat in her car but in 2015 was given a suspended sentence for hounding her again.
Life model Catherine Mitchell, 51, (pictured) began her affair with Kershaw in 2006 after asking him to paint her portait
He was eventually jailed for 26 weeks in 2017 after he approached Ms Mitchell at a Co-Op supermarket and tried to strike up a conversation with her saying: ‘You’ve got a new cat and so have I.
‘I think about you all the time. Let’s pick up where we left off’.
But after being freed, Kershaw accosted her again over the Christmas period of 2018 when she was shopping in the town and told her: ‘I adore you and I spent every day in prison thinking about you and I never meant any harm’.
The following year he was sentenced 20 weeks, suspended for 12 months and banned from contacting her for life, but in 2020 he twice flouted the order and was given another 12 weeks jail suspended for two years.
The latest incidents took place between July and August last year, just ten days after the suspended sentence was imposed.
An expert in oils and watercolours, English-born Kershaw saw his work (pictured) featured as far afield as Sao Paulo, Brazil
Walter Kershaw was dubbed one of Britain’s first graffiti artists. Pictured above is work from his Littleborough, Greater Manchester studio
The ‘predatory’ stalking record of Britain’s first Banksy
- 2006 – Catherine Mitchell and Walter Kershaw begin affair after she asked him to paint her portrait.
- July 2007 – Mitchell and Kershaw split.
- 2009 to 2013 – Police repeatedly warn Kershaw about his conduct.
- November 2013 – Kershaw issued with two year restraining order after he admitting to stalking Mitchell.
- April 2015 – Kershaw admits twice breaching restraining order which is made indefinite. Sentenced to 16 weeks, suspended for two years.
- August 2015 – Eight weeks of his suspended sentence activated following further breach.
- August 2017 – Breach of a restraining order – 18 weeks jail.
- May 2019 – Breach of a restraining order – 20 weeks jail suspended for 12 months.
- July 2020 – Breach of restraining order – 12 weeks jail suspended for two years.
- April 2021 – Kershaw jailed for four years after ‘predatory’ stalking campaign
In a statement to police Miss Mitchell who called Kershaw ‘the Devil man’ said she was so terrified of the artist she had to quit her home and subsequently spent £65,000 building an extension at the home of her mother Marjorie, 77, so she could move in with her.
Ms Mitchell said: ‘Walter Kershaw has continued to stalk us relentless to the present day.
‘The very fact he has dismissed the various restraining orders we have against him as mere folly is a sure sign that he only lives by his own rules in a self-centred untouchable world where the law is irrelevant.
‘The last time he was sent to prison we felt free and it felt like a release from the perpetual panic and anguish which has sadly become a customary aspect of our lives.
‘When he was in jail, no longer was it necessary to take expensive taxis or cross a muddy field as avoidance strategies.
‘We desire to live our lives without the continuous worry for this arrogant, predatory person who has affected out peaceful lives for over a decade with his narcissistic attitude and behaviour.
‘His behaviour is obsessive distressing, disturbing and alarming and we simply do not know where or when we will encounter him next.’
Kershaw had shot to fame in the 70s with his large-scale murals on houses and later was dubbed ‘the Original Banksy’ with his work displayed as far afield as Sao Paolo in Brazil.
In mitigation, defence lawyer Anthony Morris said: ‘There does not seem to be anything done that is intentionally malicious.
‘There is no offer of violence and no physical intimidation. From his point of view, he was trying to build bridges and was not consciously aware of the fact the victim was suffering from psychological distress.
‘He lived in the hope that he could break down barriers and build a friendship again.’
The full details of Kershaw’s 13-year ‘predatory’ stalking campaign against Catherine Mitchell were heard at Minshull Street Crown Court
But sentencing Judge Mark Savill told Kershaw: ‘It is extremely sad to see a gentleman with a great skill as an artist before the court for such serious matters.
‘Catherine was doing what any normal citizen should be allowed to do and yet you have caused very serious harm or distress.
‘Your age does not justify your appalling behaviour in this case.
‘Two women have had to suffer with their lives blighted and ruined by your selfish behaviour.
‘The time has come where you must receive the message from this court that this behaviour cannot continue.’
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