EastEnders star Samantha Womack was left scared in her own home after finding a stalker outside the property, a court has heard.
Peter Rombough, 22, from Ditchingham, Norfolk, pleaded guilty to travelling 93 miles to stalk the actress, who plays Ronnie Mitchell in the soap, at her Bedfordshire home.
He appeared before Great Yarmouth Magistrates’ Court for sentencing on Monday and was given an eight-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months.
Samantha Womack plays Ronnie Mitchell in the soap (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
In a statement read to the court, mother-of-two Womack said she now felt nervous when she was in the house on her own and feared for the safety of her children.
After finding Rombough outside in September last year, the police and BBC organised extra security to protect the actress, the court heard.
She added: “These events have had a massive impact. I can’t stop thinking about it. He’s a total stranger, but I’m concerned about his well-being and do hope he is okay and needs to seek some help.”
She added she had been reluctant to contact the police as she feared Rombough may harm himself, but felt it was necessary to protect her family and prevent anybody else being stalked.
Womack and her EastEnders co-stars Rita Simons and Jacqueline Jossa (Ian West/PA)
Prosecutor Josephine Jones said Rombough first went looking for the property in May, but could not find the house. He went to the property again on September 3.
“The defendant’s fixation would appear to have got the better of him when he delivered a letter,” she added.
On September 10, Womack saw a light outside her house in the early hours and her husband, Mark, went to investigate. He found Rombough sitting on a wall and asked him to leave, but CCTV cameras showed he remained in the vicinity.
In the rambling letter, Rombough said he feared he ‘couldn’t deal with the consequences’ of rejection by Womack.
He added: “I do harbour some sort of love for you – I can’t live with that regret and the fact any other woman is second best to you. I could go to a really dark place where you are concerned.”
He went on to say he did not mean any harm adding that Womack was ‘one of the last people on the planet I want to hurt’.
Womack with her co-star Scott Maslen (Ian West/PA)
Rombough later posted an apology on Twitter, saying: “I never meant to cause upset. I am very sorry… I never wanted it to go this far. I am so sorry, have a nice life, you won’t see me again.”
The court heard he admitted his fantasies about Womack had started when he was 16. He told police he had an unhealthy crush on her.
Nicola Burt, mitigating, said he should be sentenced on the circumstances of the offence and not the fame of his victim.
“He accepts his actions were wrong and how they impacted the victim,” she added.
Presiding magistrate Robin Hornby also made Rombough subject to a two-year restraining order and a mental health programme.
He said: “We must disregard that this was a high-profile victim. Stalking is stalking and it does not matter who it is: It is not a nice thing.”