Crime

TV presenter’s ex-husband jailed after near-decade-long campaign of harassment and controlling behaviour

ITV Wales presenter Ruth Dodsworth’s ex-husband has been jailed after a nine-year campaign of harassment and stalking during their marriage.

Jonathan Wignall, 54, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment at Cardiff Crown Court on Wednesday, April 14, after he’d previously pleaded guilty to one count of coercive and controlling behaviour and stalking.

Wignall previously ran the Escape nightclub in Swansea and the city’s annual Escape In The Park festival.

According to court reports, the controlling behaviour began in about 2010 when the couple moved from Swansea to Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan. Ms Dodsworth became the family’s main breadwinner as Wignall’s nighclub business began failing.

The court heard Wignall controlled various aspects of his wife’s life; hounding her with calls and unannounced visits at work, refusing to let her go places without him, accompanying her to GP visits and after she found the courage to leave him, placing a tracking device on her car.

He also accessed her phone with her fingerprint as she slept and repeatedly accused her of being unfaithful.

Wignall also controlled the family’s finances, keeping his wife in the dark about the huge debts he was running up, which subsequently led to her being evicted from the family home following his arrest.

When he was arrested in December 2019, Wignall responded: “Harassment? But she’s my wife.”

Addressing the court, his former wife said his conducted had affected her confidence, her health and left her walking of eggshells for many years of their marriage.

Sentencing him to three years in prison Judge Daniel Williams told Wignall he was a “fantasist with a fragile ego” and that it was “clear you have no remorse”.

Following media coverage of the case, Ruth Dodsworth released a statement thanking the public for their support.

She said: “I never wanted my story to be public. On reflection, I’m glad. because if just one person can relate… can feel assured that they are not alone… then it has all been worth it.”

Speaking following the case, Detective Constable Gillon Neal, officer in the case, said: “Jonathan Wignall made his wife’s life a misery, controlling most aspects of her life and leaving her feeling powerless, humiliated and fearful for her safety.

“His statement upon his arrest demonstrates the mindset he had – that his wife was a possession for him to control and manipulate as he saw fit.

“His victim showed a huge amount of courage in reporting him, supporting the prosecution and facing him in court, and I hope his conviction and sentencing provides her with some closure and allows her to begin rebuilding her life.

“Coercive and controlling behaviour often builds up over time and I hope this conviction also helps others experiencing this kind of devastating abuse to spot the signs and provides reassurance that all reports will be taken seriously and victims will be fully supported.”

(Lead image: IMDB / South Wales Police)


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