Photographer who stalked interior design guru handed restraining order

Society photographer who stalked Habitat founder Sir Terence Conran’s daughter, 57, by sending her heart emojis and turning up uninvited to her £3million manor is handed a restraining order

  • Peter Warner, 76, left the interior design guru feeling ‘anxious and vulnerable’ 

A retired society photographer was today given a restraining order for scaring designer Sophie Conran by repeatedly turning up at her country home and inviting her to dinner.

Peter Warner left the glamorous 57-year-old ‘anxious and vulnerable’ after ‘persistently’ messaging her with heart emojis.

On one occasion, Warner bypassed security gates at Mrs Conran’s estate after driving almost 100 miles to try to see her at her Grade II listed Georgian manor house. 

The 76-year-old claimed to have a personal invite to a charity garden event. This time, Mrs Conran’s 28-year-old son Felix told Mr Warner to leave.

Prior to turning up at her £3 million home, he was warned by a family friend of the Conrans to ‘leave her alone’, the court heard. 

Peter Warner (pictured) pleaded guilty to harassment and was today handed a year-long restraining order and 12 month conditional discharge at Salisbury Magistrates’ Court, Wiltshire

Sophie Conran pictured outside Salisbury Magistrates’ Court where she said Warner’s harassment had left her feeling ‘anxious and vulnerable’

An interior design guru herself, Mrs Conran is the daughter of famous designer Sir Terence Conran and cookery writer Caroline Herbert.

Warner claimed he knew the Conrans ‘via a half-brother’, but in a text to her housekeeper, Mrs Conran said she had no idea who he was.

Magistrates had been told the photographer, from Bridport, Dorset, travelled 94 miles to the 77 acre Basset Down estate, where Mrs Conran bought Salthorp House in 2013.

On this occasion she was away. After Warner arrived and was allowed into her kitchen, her concerned housekeeper sent Mrs Conran a photo saying he claimed to know her, this is when she replied saying she had no idea who Mr Warner was.

The court heard Warner also spammed heart emojis to her Facebook business account and repeatedly asked her to dinner over several months. 

The photographer told magistrates he struggled with modern technology. He had sent repeated messages which received automated responses, but he was in the belief he was in a conversation with the designer.

Warner pleaded guilty to harassment and was today handed a year-long restraining order and 12 month conditional discharge at Salisbury Magistrates’ Court, Wiltshire.   

David Fosser, prosecuting, said the harassment occurred last year, between May 20 and September 9.

Mr Fosser said: ‘Mrs Conran tells us that she didn’t know Mr Warner before May 20, but she was aware of him as an acquaintance through one of her friends.

‘Mrs Conran was away from home. She has a housekeeper. She was told that a chap had turned up claiming to know her, and he had gone into the kitchen.

The designer’s son, Felix Conran (pictured), 28, asked Warner to leave when he turned up at a private garden event at her home at the Basset Down estate

‘A photo was taken and sent to her. She said “I have no idea who this person is”.

‘Messages were sent to Mrs Conran’s business account on Facebook. She runs a successful business and has a social media presence, and has staff to run her business accounts for her.

‘The messages were answered by a standard business mail-type answer. Mrs Conran never saw the messages herself.

‘Having turned up to her home address, he sent her persistent messages that she was made aware of, and he turned up to her address again in June.

‘Mrs Conran got in touch with her friend who knew him, Mr Shuckburgh. He contacted Mr Warner and told him that she didn’t want him to contact her. He didn’t seem to take this on board.

‘Mr Shuckburgh texted him “just to confirm, please don’t visit her house again or send her messages on anything. You followed people through the security gates, this is trespassing. Leave her alone”.’

The court heard that he turned up to her home yet again, mistakenly believing he had received a personal invite, and Mrs Conran’s son Felix, 28, had to tell him to leave.

Mr Fosser said: ‘On September 9th, Mrs Conran hosted a ticketed charity event in her garden, and Mr Warner turned up. Mrs Conran was inside the building and saw him across the garden and recognised him.

‘She asked her son to intervene, and he asked him to leave.

‘Her son said he went to speak to Mr Warner, and he acted like he had been caught red-handed. Mr Warner seemed convinced that he knew him, but he had never met this man before.’

In Mrs Conran’s victim impact statement read to the court, she 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.’

Mrs Conran is the daughter of Sir Terence Conran (pictured),  famed for the Habitat brand, who passed away in 2020

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.

‘He sent a number of messages saying ‘Would you like to have dinner with me?’ These were responded to by an automatic message algorithm.

‘He has said that he struggles with modern technology and thought that it was Mrs Conran who was responding.

‘He received a flyer invite advertising a charity garden event which read “you are invited” and he, rather foolishly, thought that it was a personal invitation to attend the event.

‘He genuinely thought it was Mrs Conran contacting him.’

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

The chairwoman said: ‘This has clearly been very distressing to Mrs Conran. Despite being warned to stop contacting her, you continued to do so.

‘This led to the distress we have heard.’

 Sir Terence Conran, famed for the Habitat brand, died aged 88 in 2020.

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