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Abusive former Colchester soldier who ‘terrorised’ neighbours is spared jail

PUBLISHED: 06:32 24 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:51 24 January 2017

Stanley Snellgrove leaves Ipswich Crown Court.

Stanley Snellgrove leaves Ipswich Crown Court.

An 87-year-old “neighbour from hell” who racially abused his neighbours and subjected them to a campaign of harassment has walked free from court after a judge decided not to send him straight to prison.

Former soldier Stanley Snellgrove “emotionally and mentally terrorised” Javier Rivera and his family and made their lives a misery, a court heard.

The campaign of harassment included spying on their home in Catherine Hunt Way, Colchester, with binoculars and taking photographs, swearing, making rude gestures, clasping his hands as if he was firing a gun at Mr Rivera and making a throat-cutting gesture with his finger, Ipswich Crown Court was told.

Snellgrove also made a comment to Mr Rivera, who is of Colombian heritage, about “you people coming over here” and in March last year painted a racially abusive word on his fence which was visible to Mr Rivera, said David Wilson, prosecuting.

He said that during one week in February last year, Mr Rivera had been subjected to harassment on an almost daily basis.

The court heard that after Mr Rivera and his family moved into their home, which backed on to Snellgrove’s property, the defendant had removed some trellis and part of a boundary fence resulting in Mr Rivera installing CCTV cameras.

When police went to talk to him in October 2015, Snellgrove referred to his army career and said he would “shoot people of their types”, said Mr Wilson.

In a statement read to Ipswich Crown Court, Mr Rivera described Snellgrove as “a neighbour from hell” and accused him of “emotionally and mentally torturing” his family and making their lives a misery.

Snellgrove, of Harvey Road, Colchester, admitted harassment and racially aggravated harassment and was given an 18-month prison sentence suspended for two years and a 20-week curfew between the hours of 7pm and 6am.

He was also ordered to pay £750 to Mr Rivera and a £100 victim surcharge and was made the subject of a restraining order in respect of Mr Rivera and his family.

Sentencing him, Judge David Goodin described his behaviour as “devastating, cruel and spiteful”.

He said the offences crossed the custody threshold but he felt able to suspend it because of the defendant’s age and 22 years’ service in the army.

Frank O’Toole, for Snellgrove, accepted his client’s behaviour had been obnoxious.

“He now fully accepts what he did was wrong and should never have happened. He felt he couldn’t talk to his neighbour and things got worse and worse as time went on,” said Mr O’Toole.

He said Snellgrove had been injured while he was in the army and received an army pension.

Mr O’Toole said Snellgrove was planning to move to Stanway to be near his daughter.

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