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Gloucestershire Business News

Princess threatened for "moving satellites"

Royal protection officers found a man who had repeatedly threatened to stab the Princess Royal as he entered the grounds of her Gatcombe Park home, a court was told.

James Ballinger, 35, of Farm Close, Minchinhampton, made a series of 999 calls to police on February 27 stating he was going to the Gloucestershire estate to stab her and "anybody else who was there", Cheltenham Magistrates were told.

Cathy Thornton, prosecuting, said Ballinger told the emergency call handler Princess Anne was "controlling his mind by moving his satellites".

And at 3.15pm he was found, unarmed at Gatcombe Park and detained by Royal Household protection officers.

She told the court that on Wednesday, while on bail ahead of a court appearance in July, he called 999 to say he was having thoughts about stabbing a member of the Royal Family, specifically the Princess Royal.

He again said the Princess was "moving his satellites, which was affecting his well-being".

He was arrested at home and appeared by video link from the Gloucestershire Police custody unit at Quedgeley.

Lee Mott, defending, said: "He does not remember making the original call to the police in February.

"I was with him when he was being interviewed by the officers. When the 999 call was played back to him he agreed the voice was his and that he had said some horrible things.

"He said he was sorry he had threatened Princess Anne, but he explained that she was controlling his satellites which told him what to do."

Mr Mott explained Ballinger was on medication and had hoped the case could have been dealt with much earlier so his mental health issues could be addressed.

Ballinger pleaded guilty to the original charge of making a malicious communication on February 27 by making numerous phone calls to the police control room which "conveyed a threat and caused distress to the call handler".

He admitted a similar charge of making a malicious communication to the control room on June 17 that was 'grossly offensive and menacing in character.'

Andrew Hill, chairman of the magistrates, sentenced Ballinger to a 12-month community order including a programme to address his alcohol and mental health problems, as well as a six-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

Imposing a six-month exclusion order banning Ballinger from entering Gatcombe Park, Mr Hill said he hoped Ballinger would get the help he needs.

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