OAP in court for harassing vicar
By Dave GooderhamA PENSIONER bombarded a vicar and his wife with a stream of abuse before placing a placard littered with swearwords facing their home.
By Dave Gooderham
A PENSIONER bombarded a vicar and his wife with a stream of abuse before placing a placard littered with swearwords facing their home.
Alan Birt, 67, swore at the Rev Peter Dainty and his wife Margaret in their driveway and even cut a hole in his garden hedge, telling the couple that he was going to “watch them”.
A court heard Birt had become stressed by 10 months of building work on the couple's home in Fornham All Saints, near Bury St Edmunds, prior to them moving in.
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Just one day after the vicar and his wife had settled in to their new home, Birt confronted the couple, screaming that they were not welcome.
Philip Jones, prosecuting, said: “He shouted that no-one wanted them here and then later called Mrs Dainty an 'ugly old cow'. Later, he clipped a hole in the hedge and told her this was to watch them.”
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The court was told the following day Birt placed a hand-painted placard through the hedge containing abusive language.
Although police warned him about the sign, and at one stage it was removed, Birt promptly put it back up again and he was arrested.
Birt, a former RAF serviceman, appeared before St Edmundsbury magistrates yesterday and pleaded guilty to two charges of harassment between December 17 and 21 last year.
The pensioner, of Forge End, Fornham All Saints, was given a conditional discharge of six months and ordered to pay costs of £60.
Claire Lockwood, mitigating, said Birt had become stressed by 10 months of building work on the property prior to the couple moving in.
“There was a lot of noise early on Sunday mornings and Birt had made complaints. When they moved in, he knows his behaviour was unacceptable and in law amounted to harassment,” she added.
“But my client's psychiatric condition contributed to his behaviour at that time. In the past he has gone into Combat Stress, a psychiatric ward for ex-servicemen.
“He served in the RAF for 30 years, but he does have a form of brain damage and his physical and mental condition has deteriorated over the years.
“He has suffered from manic depression for some years and he is very embarrassed about his behaviour and acknowledges his wrongdoings.”
Speaking after the case, Mr Dainty said: “I am glad the sentence wasn't any worse. We bear no ill feelings towards Alan Birt and we know he has got some health problems.
“We would like this matter resolved and we wish him all the best. The incident upset us at the time, but we are gradually settling in now.”
Birt declined to comment following the hearing.