A court has heard that Richard Brittain, a former winner of the TV show Countdown, travelled 500 miles across the UK to assault a teenager who wrote a bad review of his book.
Brittain, 28, who won Countdown in 2006, travelled from England to Glenrothes, Scotland, having used Facebook to track down his victim, Paige Rolland, 18, at the Asda store where she worked. On 3 October he snuck up behind her and battered her over the head with a wine bottle, knocking her out.
A month before, he had stalked Ella Durant, a former university classmate who had moved from London to Glasgow. He tracked her down using Twitter and Instagram and approached her twice.
Brittain, of Bedford, pleaded guilty yesterday at Glasgow Sheriff Court to engaging in a course of conduct that caused Durant fear or alarm and assaulting Rolland.
Durant met Brittain when he was a student at the University of Greenwich in London, and was so concerned by his behaviour she contacted the police before moving to Glasgow. After moving there she received a Valentine's Day card from Brittain, who'd found out her address. She then saw him on two occasions in Glasgow, and contacted the police each time.
The court heard how Durant then saw a post Brittain had written about stalking entitled "The Benevolent Stalker".
This blog was picked up by horrified American readers on Kinja's Groupthink.
A month later, in October 2014, he assaulted Rolland with a wine bottle. Earlier in the year, Brittain had uploaded part of a book he had written called The World Rose on to Wattpad, a reading and writing community. Rolland commented negatively on his work.
Procurator fiscal depute Harry Findlay told the court: "He went to the alcohol aisle and picked up a bottle of wine. He then went to the aisle where the complainer was working. He approached her from behind, she was kneeling down collecting cereal from the bottom shelf of the aisle.
"While doing so, the accused approached without warning, any provocation or words and he struck the complainer on the back of the head with the bottle.
"One blow. It made contact and the wound bled immediately and she had a moment of unconsciousness."
The story has made the front page of Scotland's Daily Record.
Rolland told the Mirror: "At first, I thought that maybe I'd hit my head off the shelf and, as everything started to spin and go black, I wondered how I could be so stupid as to hit my head so hard."
She went on: "I heard the tinkle of a bottle on the floor and I thought that something had fallen on me. Blood was covering my hands and dripping down my arms. ...
"Before I went into shock for the first time, a colleague pressed towels to my head and someone covered me with a heavy jacket to try and stop it from happening."
She added: "The attack has left me nervous and fearful. I find it difficult to meet new people and am nervous in big crowds."
Sheriff Martin Jones has deferred sentence until a later date pending reports, and a motion for bail was refused.
Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Alan White at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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