‘It was just terrifying’: Denise Welch feared she would be burned alive after her stalker set fire to her house – before he was sentenced to seven years in prison
Denise Welch has revealed she feared she was going to be ‘burned alive’ after her stalker set fire to her home.
Toraq Wyngard, 53, was convicted last September of stalking causing serious alarm or distress to the actress, 63, between September 2020, and February 11 last year, and was sentenced to seven years and seven months in prison earlier this month.
Now Denise has detailed the horrifying incident to The Sun, and the ‘scarring’ after-effects of her ordeal, admitting she feared he was trying to kill her.
Terrifying: Denise Welch has candidly discussed her terror that she and her family would die after her stalker set fire to her home
She said: ‘We thought he was trying to kill us. It was just terrifying. It doesn’t bear thinking about.’
She explained that the night of the blaze, she was awoken by her husband Lincoln Townley screaming as flames erupted outside their £800,000 home.
They were alerted by a lady who had driven past, who Denise says without whom, she ‘may not have been here today.’
Stalker hell: Toraq Wyngard (pictured), 53, was convicted last September of stalking causing serious alarm or distress to the actress, 63, between September 2020, and February 2021
They immediately called the fire brigade and watched as the fire grew and melted the garage, while the wait for the services felt like ‘forever’.
Security footage showed Wyngard circling a skip in front of the house before setting it alight, causing £4,285 of damage.
He was arrested by police nearby that night and found to be carrying a four-inch kitchen knife in his backpack.
The couple were forced to wait to see if Wyngard would be locked up, and she opened up on her fear that he would try something again.
She said: ‘It was utterly terrifying and for six months it completely changed the way I lived my life. All I could think was, ‘Why, why, why, why is he doing this to me and my family? What have I ever done to that man?’.
Brave: Now Denise has detailed the horrifying incident to The Sun, and the ‘scarring’ after effects (pictured in April with husband Lincoln Townley)
Denise explained she suffered from nightmares and sleepless nights, while constantly being on edge.
She admitted: ‘I’m not a nervy person by nature — I’d always felt safe in my own house — but when someone sets fire to your home, it changes you forever.’
Wyngard returned to Denise’s home the following February and damaged a garden gate and daubed it in graffiti – writing in marker pen the words ‘witch’ and ‘pimp’ and an upside-down cross.
At Wyngard’s sentencing, Judge Michael Leeming said his actions had impacted the couple and caused them ‘alarm and distress’.
The judge also imposed a restraining order, preventing Wyngard from entering Wilmslow or approaching the couple or doing any research into their private lives.
Gareth Bellis, prosecuting, told the court that the fire service had attended the property on the night of the blaze after the couple had been alerted by a member of the public ringing their doorbell.
The fire – believed to have been started using an accelerant – was soon extinguished but there had been a risk of the fire spreading and ‘creating a large amount of toxic smoke’ and causing ‘serious injury or death’.
Scarred: She admitted: ‘I’m not a nervy person by nature — I’d always felt safe in my own house — but when someone sets fire to your home, it changes you forever’
Wyngard, Bellis told the court, had claimed the knife he was carrying was used to cut flowers while two cameras – also in found in his backpack – were used in his press photographer role.
During police interviews, Wyngard – who has a history of mental illness including bi-polar disorder – denied being involved and answered no comment to questions.
But he admitted a charge of stalking the ex-Hollyoaks actress and causing serious alarm or distress between September 18, 2020 and February 1, 2021 and a hearing in September.
He also admitted charges of arson, possession of a bladed article, and criminal damage.
But on the day he was originally due to be sentenced, in October, last year, he indicated he intended changing his pleas – causing a delay in the case.
A judge was then forced to apologise to Denise for attending court ‘unnecessarily’ because the sentencing did not go ahead.
The case dragged on since then but a judge finally rejected Wyngard’s application to vacate his pleas at a hearing last month.
Denise and Lincoln appeared via videolink at court to deliver victim impact statements.
She said Wyngard’s actions has left her ‘terrified’ and she would ‘never forget what happened’ and no longer felt safe in her home or walking the nearby shop.
‘It’s terrifying to think what could’ve happened if he gained access,’ she said.
‘It terrifies me to think somebody could have been capable of committing this act. He could’ve caused serious injury to me or my family and just walked away as if nothing had happened.
‘It’s changed my life. I have a wonderful life but this man has permanently scarred it.’
Lincoln said his family meant ‘everything to him’ and not being able to protect them had left him ‘angry’.
He added: ‘I feel angry that someone I don’t know has targeted our home and I don’t feel safe in the place where I should feel safe.’
The court heard the couple have since upgraded their security at at cost of £2,000 per month.
Louise Bellis, defending, said Wyngard, who had a previous conviction in 2005 for shooting two people with a BB gun, had suffered from bi-polar issues following the death of his partner in 2004.
The TV personality has previously spoken of the heavy toll Wyngard’s harassment has had on her family.
‘This has been an incredibly terrifying and stressful time for me and our family,’ said Denise.
‘We are grateful to the fire service for their prompt action saving our house and to the police for their amazing vigilance and support.
‘Special thanks go to the Harm Reduction Unit assigned to us who have guided us through this horrible time every step of the way.’
Disappointment: Denise Welch and her husband Lincoln attended Chester Crown Court in October expecting to see Wyngard jailed, but he attempted to change his plea
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