Stage actors call for support after man jailed over malicious letters

West End actors call for more support for performers after ‘obsessed’ stalker was jailed for campaign of malicious letter-writing

  • Leo Darcey, 30, began sending bizarre letters to celebrities in August last year
  • Darcey targeted stage actor Scott Paige and sent malicious letters and toenails 
  • He sent McFly’s Tom Fletcher pictures of his children and accused him of abuse 
  • Sister West End star Carrie Hope says she was also victim of series of vile letters
  • Darcey has been jailed for 12 months and handed multiple restraining orders  

West End stars have called for more protection for performers after they became targets of malicious letter campaigns and harassment.

Carrie Hope Fletcher and Scott Paige have spoken out about the ‘campaign of abuse’ they were subject to while they were performing on London’s West End.

It follows the conviction of stalker Leo Darcey who was, this week, jailed for 21 weeks after sending malicious letters to actors including Paige as well as Fletcher’s brother – McFly star Tom. 

Speaking to The Stage, Fletcher said her ordeal began when she received a series of letters while performing at the Gielgud Theatre during the concert run of Les Misérables in 2019.

The letters featured a picture of her in a bikini – taken from her social media – and offered her services as a sex worker.

The outlet reports that the letters were sent frequently to the theatre and to her co-stars including Michael Ball, Alfie Boe and Matt Lucas.

The actor, who is set to star in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella next year, told the Stage: ‘The thing that terrified me the most was they were anonymous and I had no idea who it was.

West End stars have called for more protection for performers after they became targets of malicious letter campaigns and harassment. Pictured: Carrie Hope Fletcher who was sent a series of malicious letters that featured her picture and advertised her services as a sex worker

‘I trust my friends and family and there was never any doubt in my mind it could be someone I knew, but then I worried it could be someone at the stage door one night – that I could walk out and if this person were deranged enough to send letters like this could they be unwell enough to stand at stage door with a knife, waiting for me.’

The actor says the letters stopped when she moved to the Sondheim Theatre but she described the situation as ‘very stressful’ and ‘anxiety-inducing’, adding that the ordeal left her needing therapy.

She said that more needs to be done to protect cast members and suggested a support group for people who have been through similar situations and no legal action was ever taken against the perpetrator in connection to the abuse she received.

Meanwhile, Paige has spoken out after the conviction of a man in relation to his ordeal this week. 

Leo Darcey, also known as Robert Heywood, 30, of Urmston, Greater Manchester, began sending the letters to theatre actor Paige and his mother in August last year, and said he put up posters about him around the local town.

Paige told The Stage that the malicious campaign made him not want to leave his own house.

West End star Scott Paige (centre in Cat in the Hat) has spoken out after he was subject to a vile series of malicious letters by Leo Darcey, aka Robert Heywood, who has been now been jailed

Leo Darcey (pictured), also known as Robert Heywood, began sending the letters to theatre actor Scott Paige and his mother in August last year, and said he put up posters about him

He added: ‘The detail was horrific, and he sent these to a lot of people in my village. It was the most horrific time, and one of those things where you think: “I don’t know what to do here”.’

The stalker, who has been jailed for 12 months and slapped with a restraining order, also sent a letter to singer and Strictly star Tom Fletcher referring to his three children. 

Mr Fletcher initially thought the letter was fan mail but then realised it contained photographs of his children and accused him of being a paedophile.  

He said it was ‘the most disturbing thing he had ever read’ and made him feel vulnerable. 

Mr Paige thought the letter was a one-off, so didn’t immediately go to the police, Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court heard.  

But the next day he received another letter which contained more abuse saying his family should ‘burn in hell’ and it also included toenail clippings.  

The court heard that the following day a poster was put up in a pub which showed two pictures of Mr Paige taken from his Instagram account.

The poster read that he was ‘sick and ill’ and said he had an OnlyFans account showing him having sex with older men and promoting young teenage boys to have sex with older men.

The stalker, who has been jailed for 12 months and slapped with a restraining order, also sent a letter to Carrie Hope’s brother and McFly’s Tom Fletcher (pictured) referring to his children

Mr Paige received a further letter stating he and his friend, fellow actor Cameron Blakely, were ‘paedophiles’.

Darcey then went into Mr Paige’s mother’s shop and put four photographs of Mr Blakely in front of her and asked if she had sent them to him.

He then gave a false name of ‘Jacob Jones’ before leaving.

In a victim personal statement, Mr Paige said he was left ‘terrified’ and scared for the safety of his family.

He said he had been having sleepless nights and had to change his day-to-day activities.

Colette Renton, prosecuting, told the court that Mr Blakely and his ex-wife, Bethan, had received numerous letters of abuse as well, suggesting he had ‘raped his own daughter’. 

Friends and family of Mr Blakely also began receiving letters alleging that he was a paedophile and that they ‘needed to take action’.

A colleague of his received a letter accusing his ex-wife, a teacher, of being ‘complicit’ and compared them both to serial killers Myra Hindley and Ian Brady. 

Mr Paige thought the letter was a one-off, so didn’t immediately go to the police, Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court (pictured) heard

The next day his colleague received a poster titled ‘Come to my paedophile party’ and contained a private photograph of the colleague with his niece.

Further threats were made stating that Mr Blakely needed to ‘suffer’ and that the writer ‘looks forward to killing him and ending his life’.

Mr Blakely’s twin brother received a letter accusing his brother of being a ‘paedophile and a rapist’.

Ms Renton said: ‘Bethan and Cameron Blakely discussed the person responsible and he recalled that he knew Robert Heywood.

‘He said he had met the defendant at the showing of the Addams Family in Salford, the defendant had attended with his family.

‘The defendant’s mother had chased him into the car park after the show and said her son was upset he didn’t meet him.’

Mr Blakely and Darcey began following each other on Twitter as the actor knew he was a fan, and Darcey began messaging him.

However, it became ‘obsessive’ to the point where Mr Blakely blocked him, and sent him a message explaining why.

Mr Paige received a further letter stating he and his friend, fellow actor Cameron Blakely (pictured, left, with Samantha Womack in The Addams Family musical), were ‘paedophiles’

Darcey had apologised, but later during the actor’s appearance in Swansea, his parents approached him and asked him to continue speaking to him, but he explained his messages were ‘intrusive and persistent’. 

Another letter was sent to actor Robert Houchen to his address in Greenwich containing abusive language and death threats. Mr Houchen said he was left mentally disturbed. 

The final letters were sent to a businessman in Essex, who also received letters signed off as a friend of his.

These too accused him of being a paedophile and said that he was ‘looking for children to abuse’. 

Darcey was arrested and interviewed, and said he was a fan of Mr Blakely and Mr Paige after seeing them perform in the Addams Family, but said Mr Paige had angered him as he ‘didn’t understand his autism’.

Darcey told officers he wanted to upset Mr Paige. He said his mental health was poor over lockdown and so he didn’t recall if he sent anything to Mr Blakely.

He added that he believed he had a romantic relationship with Mr Blakely.

Darcey was said to have one previous conviction for harassment after sending 100 abusive messages to another actor’s Facebook account suggesting they should kill themselves.

Matthew Curtis, mitigating, said the victims must have felt ‘horrible’, and that ‘any right thinking or reasonable person would feel horrible’.

‘In an interview with a forensic psychologist, Mr Darcey said to her that he wished he could change the clock back.

‘That regret is for himself, the victim’s family and his own family. He said he did not think of the consequences at the time.’

Mr Curtis added that his client is diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and his poor mental health was exacerbated by the coronavirus lockdown.

Darcey, of Urmston, Greater Manchester, was jailed for 12 months after he pleaded guilty to sending malicious communication and harassment.

Sentencing, Judge John Potter said: ‘You conducted what can only be described as a sustained and vicious campaign of hatred towards several individuals and others close to them.

‘Some of them obtained a degree of celebrity, other victims were employed as a teacher and businessman.

‘All of them have been profoundly affected by your behaviour. All were wholly innocent victims of your grossly offensive and abusive behaviour.’

Darcey was also made the subject of a restraining order, banning him from contacting all of the victims indefinitely. 

Speaking after the sentencing, Bethan Blakely, ex-wife of Cameron Blakely who was targeted by Darcey, told the Stage: ‘Our main goal is to get people to realise this sort of thing can happen to anyone, but just because people choose to live their lives publicly doesn’t mean they are allowed to be subjected to this campaign of abuse.’

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