A CHEF and former owner of an Andover pub who tampered with his ex-partner's CCTV cameras and "continuously turned up at her address" has avoided a prison sentence.

David Watts, 43, who previously owned the Crown Inn in Upton, pleaded guilty on Monday, September 4, to stalking Melissa Gray which amounted to harassment.

During a hearing which took place at Basingstoke Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, December 6 Watts was sentenced for the offence. 

The court heard that Watts attended Ms Gray's address unannounced on numerous occasions, tampering with her CCTV and messaging her regarding her movements, which was unwanted.

READ MORE: Ex-owner of The Crown in Upton Dave Watts stalked former partner

Andover Advertiser: Dave Watts, former owner of The Crown, in Upton, appeared at Basingstoke Magistrates' Court

The 43-year-old was trained by Raymond Blanc at his twice Michelin-starred restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, in Oxfordshire, where he spent eight years and became senior sous.

Watts took over the Crown Inn in 2019 and it has since been awarded 'Bib Gourmand' status in the Michelin guide.

Watts, who also won Good Food Guide’s Chef to Watch accolade in 2013, and Ms Gray got together in 2021 and had a baby before things turned sour, the court heard.

Prosecutor Chuni Varun told the court that Watts turned up at Ms Gray's address on Monday, February 13; Thursday, February 23; Friday, February 24 and Thursday, March 2.

While some of the dates were arranged so he could see his child others were unannounced but he tampered with the cameras on more than one occasion. 

During the visits he was seen on the CCTV moving the camera towards a wall, the court was told, leaving Ms Gray feeling as if she was being watched. 

He said: "Although some of the dates were arranged he was clearly going beyond what he was invited to do her by staying there outside and moving the camera making her feel uneasy."

A personal victim statement from Ms Gray was read out to the court in which she said "she still struggles to sleep", suffers from anxiety and “feels constantly sick when she thinks about what happened”.

Mr Varun continued: "She felt like she was being watched regularly and became scared to be in her own home at night because she thought the defendant may watch through the windows."

In mitigation, Watt's solicitor Ms Patterson said the pair "formed a relationship quickly". 

She said: "It happened during the Covid lockdown period and he had to admit defeat of his business and it eventually closed."

She said that although it was "only a handful of times he moved the camera" he takes "responsibility" and "regrets his decisions".

She continued: "It was nine months ago and he has ended the business he had and he has got himself a new job. He is now an employee to take the burden and stress off himself and he has secured a salary and is managing his life better."

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In his summing up Judge Stephen Apted said: "It is clear your actions intended to cause fear and distress.

"They were done over a three-week period where you were persistently messaging her and turning up at the address and in particular tampering with the CCTV camera."

He said Watts caused Ms Gray "stress and physiological harm".

Watts was handed an 18-month community order and must complete 40 hours of unpaid work.

He must also complete 30 days of rehabilitation activity and pay court costs of £85 and a victim surcharge fee of £114.