Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Neighbours Tell of Harassment

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Neighbours Tell of Harassment

Article excerpt

Byline: By Owen McAteer

A mercedes-driving businessman pushed dog faeces through the letterbox of a neighbour's house in a harassment campaign, a court heard.

Stephen Thoms exposed his neighbours to a six-month ordeal which included threats, verbal abuse and vandalism, magistrates were told.

Durham Police have asked JPs to impose an Asbo on the former conservatory salesman, 47, for his behaviour in the quiet cul-de-sac between May and November last year. He is opposing the application.

The court heard Thoms would allow his dog to foul neighbours' gardens in Auckland, Chester-le-Street, and sent threatening text messages.

Durham Police lawyer Gavin Doig told the hearing: "What we are dealing with is relatively low-level anti-social behaviour, but anti-social behaviour of such a repeated nature and such a particular type that it causes harassment, alarm and distress."

Giving evidence Lynn Stafford, who lives with her partner opposite Thoms, told the court how her problems started with him after she told her friend Joanne Bennett, who he had been dating, that she had seen him with other women.

Miss Stafford said: "He started to send rather threatening text messages to Joanne, directed at Joanne and myself.

"Joanne made me aware of some of the content of the text message demanding I keep out of his business and if I so much as looked in his direction what he would do to me.

"We were getting scared so we installed CCTV.

"He was aware the camera was going up and later came out shouting abusive language, demanding to come in the house to see where the camera was pointing."

Miss Stafford told the court that Mr Thoms' white West Highland terrier was "left to roam around the cul-de-sac".

She said: "Every time it is out it goes from one garden to another urinating on the plants. …

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