Entertainment & Arts

Gwyneth Paltrow 'feared for life' over alleged stalker letters

Gwyneth Paltrow Image copyright AP
Image caption Gwyneth Paltrow told the court the letters 'completely defy logic'

Gwyneth Paltrow has told a Los Angeles court she feared for her family's safety after receiving multiple letters from a man accused of stalking her.

Dante Michael Soiu allegedly stalked the actress for 17 years, but the case focuses on letters sent from 2009-2015.

The actress claims he sent around 70 messages - of which some talked of her death - along with other items.

She said the letters ranged from "religious to pornographic to threatening".

Deputy district attorney Wendy Segall said during opening statements: "This is a case that has gone on for Ms Paltrow for 17 years. Her sense of security has been shattered by this man."

Mr Soiu has pleaded not guilty to one count of stalking.

Ms Paltrow, who gave evidence for around three hours, also told the court Mr Soiu had sent her a cookbook, jewellery and items of clothing.

During the trial hearing, the actress read aloud from some of the letters, some expressing Mr Soiu's wish to marry her.

One letter described Ms Paltrow "bowing to death" and being "hopelessly lost". In another, Mr Soiu allegedly wrote: "I have a goal: to marry Gwyneth Paltrow and take care of her."

Religious message

Image copyright AP
Image caption Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin filed for divorce last year

Asked by the prosecution lawyer if she had been scared by the messages, the actress said "yes... because the communications completely defy logic".

"I've been dealing for 17 years with the communications from this man," she said.

"I felt very upset by it... This has been a very long and very traumatic experience already."

In defence, Lynda Westlund, Mr Soiu's lawyer, said her client was harmless.

She said the actress had misinterpreted his letters, many of which were biblical in nature and were therefore intended to give her a religious, not threatening message.

This is the second time Mr Soiu, of Columbus, Ohio, has faced trial on charges of stalking Ms Paltrow.

In 2000, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity in a trial involving messages he sent to the actress. Some of the messages included pornography and sex toys.

He was sent to a psychiatric hospital for three years but re-arrested last year after allegedly sending the actress more correspondence.

During Monday's trial, Mr Soiu shook his head at Ms Segall's opening statements after which he remained silent throughout the proceedings.

Ms Paltrow has two children from her marriage with Coldplay frontman Chris Martin.

The couple are separated after filing for divorce in 2015.

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