Designer granted restraining order against retired society photographer

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A retired society photographer who once claimed a secret weapon was being used to see through walls so Jehovah’s Witnesses could spy on him in his house has been given a restraining order for scaring designer Sophie Conran, 57, by repeatedly turning up at her country home and inviting her to dinner.

Peter Warner, 76, pleaded guilty to harassment and was handed a one-year restraining order and 12-month conditional discharge at Salisbury Magistrates’ Court after sending persistent messages and making uninvited visits to her home.

Warner spammed Sophie’s Facebook business page with multiple messages containing numerous heart emojis and the occasional British flag emoji and drove 94 miles from his home in Bridport to Sophie’s Georgian manor house on the Basset Down estate outside Swindon, bypassing security gates to approach the house.

Sophie, daughter of the late famous designer Sir Terence Conran, founder of the Habitat brand of household furnishings, who died at the age of 88 in 2020, purchased the Grade II-listed Salthrop House for £3m in 2013 for hosting gatherings.

The house and 77-acre grounds can be booked for special events and weddings.

Warner arrived at the house unannounced on at least two occasions. In the first incident, Sophie’s housekeeper admitted him into the house in her absence to wait for her when he claimed to know her.

As Warner stood leaning against the kitchen counter, the housekeeper clandestinely took a photo and messaged Sophie to ask whether she knew the man. Sophie replied saying she had no idea who Warner was.

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Sophie admitted that she and Warner had a mutual acquaintance but did not know each other, while Warner alternated between claims that he knew Sophie ‘via a half-brother’ and had met her on the dating app Badoo.

In a statement made to police, Sophie described Warner as “dilapidated” with a “crazy look in his eyes.”

Warner again showed up at Salthrop House when Sophie was hosting a ticketed charity event on Friday, September 9. He had not been invited and Sophie had her son Felix, 28, tell him to leave.

In a victim impact statement by Sophie read to the court, Sophie said: “He made me feel unsafe, turning up uninvited. He was persistent. It made me feel anxious. I live alone and feel vulnerable.

“As a result, I have had some counselling. I still feel worried about it because of the communications – he was told not to come back, but he returned.

“It reduced my trust in people. He could turn up at any time.”

In mitigation, Warner’s lawyer, Mark Glendenning, told the hearing: “Mr Warner was a society photographer in the ‘60s and ’70s, and knew the Conran family via a half-brother. He believed Mrs Conran wanted to see him and had extended an invite.”

Sentencing him, magistrates noted the “distress” caused to the celebrity designer and Warner apologised repeatedly as he exited the court.

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