File picture: Antonè/Flickr

Lonson - A renowned artist who stalked a life model for 12 years after painting her nude has been banned from going near her ever again.

Walter Kershaw, 78, and Catherine Mitchell, 48, were in a relationship for a year after she posed for him in 2006 – but when she broke it off he became obsessed and refused to accept it was over.

He embarked on a ‘predatory’ stalking campaign and was eventually jailed two years ago after breaching a restraining order multiple times. However, the pensioner was hauled back to Manchester Magistrates’ Court this week after he began hounding the model again on Christmas Eve, telling her he still ‘adored’ her.

He narrowly escaped jail after admitting breaching the order again but was banned from contacting Miss Mitchell for life.

Kershaw, who has been dubbed Britain’s first street artist, became famous in the 1970s for his large public murals. He appeared in numerous interviews on BBC TV and radio, and counted Bob Monkhouse and George Best among his fans.

Kershaw first met Miss Mitchell in 2006 when she asked him to paint her in the nude. They went on to have a relationship despite the 30-year age gap, and he painted three portraits of her. But when she broke up with him a year later, Kershaw began following her around her local supermarket, driving past her home blowing kisses and turning up at her mother’s house. He also put an oil portrait of Miss Mitchell in the window of his art gallery in Littleborough, near Rochdale, where they both live.

Police first ordered Kershaw to keep away from Miss Mitchell in 2009, and a restraining order was made in 2013. He was also banned from displaying any image of Miss Mitchell. But he repeatedly continued to harass her and in 2017, after he approached her in a supermarket, was jailed for 26 weeks.

Then, on Christmas Eve, Kershaw spotted Miss Mitchell close to a park, walked over to her and said: ‘I adore you.’ Three days later he cornered her mother Marjorie, 74, while she was shopping.

Miss Mitchell told the court: ‘The incident at the park left me very concerned for mine and my mother’s safety. I don’t know what he might do or what he is capable of. He has no regard for the conditions of his restraining order and I just want him to leave me alone.’ Her mother added: ‘I was shocked. It’s predatory behaviour.’

In previous police interviews Kershaw said he was ‘smitten’ with Miss Mitchell and described her as a ‘very beautiful woman’.

Richard Birtwhistle, defending, claimed he had bumped into Miss Mitchell by ‘chance’.

But sentencing Kershaw to 20 weeks in jail, suspended for a year, district judge Alexandra Simmonds told him: ‘This isn’t the first time you have breached the order – it is the fourth, fifth and sixth time you have breached the order.

These offences are so serious only a custodial sentence can be justified, but I have decided to suspend it because since December you have complied with this order. You haven’t done anything more sinister.’

Daily Mail