Obsessive fan who stalked organist Anna Lapwood jailed for six months

Obsessive American fan who stalked ‘TikTok organist’ Anna Lapwood for three months after buying one way ticket to UK and turning up to all her meet and greet events is jailed for six months

  •  BBC Proms first night co-presenter, 27 was stalked by fan Elliott Bennett, 36
  •  Organist said she was harassed to the extent she ‘feared for her safety’ 

A musician who co-presented the live BBC broadcast of the first night of the Proms was harassed to the point she ‘feared for her safety’ by an obsessive fan who was jailed for six months for stalking her.

The organist, conductor and broadcaster Anna Lapwood, 27, was plagued for three months by American Elliott Bennett, 36, who followed her across the Atlantic and attempted in vain to woo her.

Peterborough Crown Court heard how Bennett began following her ‘coast to coast’ while she toured the USA in March this year.

Miss Lapwood who is known as ‘the TikTok organist’ said his behaviour escalated in a ‘terrifying way’ when he began to appear at all her ‘meet and greet’ events after her performances.

He initially asked for a picture of them both together, but then his obsessive behaviour rapidly intensified to sending her letters declaring his love for her.

Co-presenter of BBC Proms first night Anna Lapwood was stalked by American fan Elliott Bennett

The organist was repeatedly mithered by Bennett, who followed her across the Atlantic 

The court heard how he got down on one knee at one event, and took Miss Lapwood’s hand, telling her that they should be together.

When she told him she had a boyfriend, he replied that he ‘can’t accept that’, and later chased her and her boyfriend across a car park after they left a hotel.

Miss Lapwood who has more than 550,000 followers on TikTok performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London on her return, but was left terrified after she spotted him at her meet and greet with fans once again after the show.

It later emerged that he had bought a one way flight from America to continue his obsessive stalking of her.

In the following days, he was seen repeatedly busking outside Pembroke College in Cambridge where Miss Lapwood is Director of Music.

When he was asked to leave, he told staff he had a spiritual connection with her, that they cared for one another, she inspired him and that they were both geniuses.

Bennett admitted stalking when he appeared at Peterborough Crown Court last Wednesday. In addition to being jailed for six months, he was given an indefinite restraining order.

Speaking after the sentencing, Miss Lapwood urged other victims of stalking and harassment to seek help and report it to the police.

The BBC Proms co-presenter said that she became harassed to the extent that she feared for her safety

The musician who c-hosted BBC coverage of the first night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall on July 14 with Clive Myrie and Sandi Toksvig, said: ‘It’s been a tough few months, and I think the big thing that it’s taught me, is that when something like this starts, we shouldn’t hesitate to report it.

‘I like to think the best of people and to think ‘oh that will be the last time, they’ll have realised it’s wrong now’, but the reality is that some people don’t understand boundaries or heed warnings.

‘The situation can escalate quickly and in a really terrifying way. When it began, I was worried that I might be overreacting, but when I got in touch with the police they dealt with it immediately and with kindness.

‘I wanted to share my experience because being stalked is so awful, yet it’s too easy to think that something isn’t serious enough to involve the police. Catching this sort of behaviour early and trying to prevent escalation early is important.’

The musician added: ‘For me, what started as a seemingly innocent encounter while on tour in the US grew into me becoming harassed in such a way that I feared for my safety and for those around me.

‘I was followed from coast to coast in the US, back to the UK, and to my workplace in Cambridge. It got to the point that he refused to go away – I felt threatened and had to be escorted everywhere.

‘When I reported him to the police, I was so grateful for their speed of action. I gave my statements and within a short time, he was arrested.. It felt like a strangely big moment the first time I could go for a coffee by myself again.

‘Obsessive behaviour and harassment impacts so many people, sadly some scenarios more disastrous than my own.

‘To anyone who is experiencing harassment or stalking, I urge you to seek help. The police know how to deal with it in the quickest and most efficient way.

‘I am utterly grateful to those who advised and supported me throughout, and for all the police have done to allow me to breathe in peace again.’

Detective Constable Timothy Taylor, who investigated the case, said: ‘Stalking is a horrendous crime, which leaves victims feeling frightened, distressed and threatened.

‘I would like to take this opportunity to praise Miss Lapwood for her courage and bravery in reporting this to the police and speaking out, giving other victims the courage to speak out.

‘I am pleased Bennett is now jailed, and I hope this sentencing provides her with some sort of closure.’

Ms Lapwood at London Bridge station doing an impromptu duet with a security guard in tribute to the late Queen

Miss Lapwood went to school at Oxford High School and graduated from Magdalen College, Oxford, where she was the first woman in the college’s 560-year history to be awarded an organ scholarship.

She became the youngest ever Director Music of any Oxford of Cambridge college when she was appointed to her post at Pembroke College at the age of 21 in 2016.

Miss Lapwood is now known as one of the most visible stars of the classical music world whose posts on TikTok attract up to four million views.

She founded the Pembroke College Girls’ Choir in 2018, which invites girls between the ages of 11 and 18 from local schools to perform at the college’s evensong services.

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