Burglar who left Coronation Street star Stephanie Beacham ‘fearing for life’ in terrifying armed raid jailed

Stephanie Beacham  (Getty)
Stephanie Beacham (Getty)

Actress Stephanie Beacham feared for her life when she was terrorised by an armed burglar and has been frightened in her own home and struggling to remember her lines at work, a court heard.

The 75-year-old Coronation Street star was alone at her £750,000 Bayswater cottage when she came face-to-face with serial burglar David Wilson, brandishing a crow bar and demanding she hand over money and jewellery.

Beacham was forced into her bedroom as Wilson rifled through her possessions in the terrifying 20-minute ordeal, and ultimately locked herself in the bathroom until he had left.

Southwark crown court heard the star is now afraid to walk her dog at night, fearful of returning to her London home, and suffering from nightmares and flashbacks including “mental images of (Wilson) standing at the end of her bed with a weapon in his hand”.

In a powerful victim impact statement, she revealed how the incident had affected her acting work, leaving her seeking therapy and medication to help her sleep.

Wilson, a “career burglar” who has spent much of his adult life in prison, was sentenced by Judge Martin Griffith on Wednesday to ten years and five months in prison, for the aggravated burglary at Beacham’s home as well as a break-in at an elderly pensioner’s home in Sheffield.

“You have wasted your life which is a great shame”, said the judge.

He said the burglary had a “traumatic effect” on Beacham, “violating her safe space and home and causing her to be suspicous of non-existnece threats and even causing her to have difficulty learning lines.”

Prosecutor John Traversi said Beacham, a Golden Globe-nominated actress who has recently reprised her role as Ken Barlow’s love interest in Coronation Street, had set out the effects of the burglary on her life in a statement to the court.

David Wilson admitted aggravated burglary at Stephanie Beacham’s west London home (MPS)
David Wilson admitted aggravated burglary at Stephanie Beacham’s west London home (MPS)

“What she considered her very safe and cosy cottage, she no longer feels safe”, he said.

“She found it very hard to learn her lines, she found it very hard to concentrate and without the support of those at work with her, she felt she may have had difficulty fulfilling her contract.

“She was frightened to return home, to a home a she had always regarded as safe.

“She always considered herself strong, mentally, and this made her feel old and vulnerable.”

He also detailed an incident after the break-in, when the actress armed herself with a knife while fearing another burglar had got into her home.

“She had come home and thought she heard a noise upstairs”, he said.

“She has gone next door and asked a neighbour to stand in the door while she went upstairs to check no one was there.

“The neighbour remarks she had a knife in her hand and didn’t even realise this.”

Revealing details of the break-in on September 25 last year, Mr Traversi told the court: “Miss Stephanie Beacham was upstairs at her home in London, he heard a noise downstairs and began to descend the stairs, calling out ‘who is there?’.

“She saw the defendant standing at the bottom of the staircase. He ran towards her, holding up to her face what she saw as a metal bar with a claw at the end, some two feet in length.”

Beacham, who starred as Sable Colby in 80s classic Dynasty, originally thought Wilson was armed with a hammer, but later identified that he was brandishing a jemmy or crowbar.

She has enjoyed a varied career on screen, with roles in BBC drama Tenko, guest appearances in Bad Girls and Casualty, and stints on Strictly Come Dancing in 2007 and Celebrity Big Brother in 2010.

“When he came upstairs, she had her phone in her hand and he told her to drop it and get upstairs”, continued Mr Traversi.

“She did as she was ordered and went to the bedroom. He then said to her ‘give me your money’ and she emptied her wallet on to the bed.

“He was not satisfied with that and said ‘that’s not your money’.

“He went on to say ‘give me your jewellery’. She took a silver bracelet from the chest of drawers and handed it to him.

“He saw an ornamental chest in the room and said ‘where’s your jewellery?’. He used the claw part of the jemmy to open the box and began sifting through the contents.

“He turned to Miss Beacham and raised the bar up in line with his head in a striking motion, and said to her ‘don’t lie to me’.

“She bravely enough replied she was not lying to him, and he said ‘I wish you weren’t here’. He ordered her into the bathroom.”

Mr Traversi added: “During the course of the incident, which was terrifying for Miss Beacham in the circumstances where she found herself, she had real fear for her life.

“He pointed at her handbag and she opened it for him.

“Once she was in the bathroom, she locked herself in and called the police when it had gone quiet outside.”

Wilson, who stole the actress’s credit cards, purse, iPhone, earrings, driving licence, and cheque book, was caught on CCTV before the break-in, carrying the jemmy covered in newspaper and trying a door before climbing up to prise open the actress’s window.

Beacham picked him out at an identity parade, and he was arrested on November 4 last year in the same area of Bayswater, west London.

He was also linked to a May 2022 break-in in Sheffield, when he had smashed his way into the home of a dementia suffering pensioner – one of his own neighbours – while she was being treated in hospital.

In the raid, Wilson stole a 1985 Paraplegic World Snooker Championship medal won by Ray Harrison, which has never been recovered. Mr Harrison’s son, Steven Harrison MBE, followed the sentencing hearing via videolink.

Scottish-born Wilson, a long-term crack cocaine and heroin addict, denied the crimes in December but pleaded guilty last month, shortly before he was due to stand trial. He had recently been freed from a prison sentence for burglaries in York when he carried out the latest offences, and has 34 burglary convictions on his record.

In a letter to Beacham, Wilson wrote: “What I did was so wrong and I understand the effect my offending had on you.”

His barrister, Claire Mawer, said Wilson feels “shame and embarrassment”.

Wilson, who appeared in court via videolink from HMP Wandsworth, pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and burglary. He has been in custody since early November last year.