Pensioner given Asbo and jail term

A WAR veteran last night started a jail sentence for waging a relentless campaign against his neighbour and council staff in a row over an oak tree overhanging his garden.

By Richard Smith

A WAR veteran last night started a jail sentence for waging a relentless campaign against his neighbour and council staff in a row over an oak tree overhanging his garden.

A stunned Arthur Burgess, 80, was led away in handcuffs by two security officers from the magistrates' court in Ipswich to spend three-and-a-half weeks in jail. He had already spent three weeks on remand in prison and was also given an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) at yesterday's court hearing.

The pensioner, from Cavendish Road, Trimley St Martin, near Felixstowe, had never been in trouble with the law until his temper erupted during a long-running dispute about a fence and a tree with his neighbour, Wilfred Youngs, who lived in the adjoining house.

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The magistrates were told Burgess had become so irate that he threatened to kill Mr Youngs and he told him he believed in “suicide bombing”.

He had also vented his anger upon Suffolk Coastal District Council staff and made 168 telephone calls in two days with the majority of them lasting less than a tenth of a second.

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Burgess threatened Anne Westover, a landscape officer with the council, and told Ian Abery, an anti-social behaviour co-ordinator, he wanted to kill him and “his time was up”.

Neil Inniss, mitigating, claimed that the authorities had “ganged up” on the pensioner and he had only been trying to protect his rights in a boundary dispute.

“His bark is worse than his bite,” said Mr Inniss. “It seems to me that he is being painted and tainted with the same brush by a number of agencies as being a certain type of person.

“They are going for the stereotype and not questioning who he really is. It has got out of hand.”

But magistrates' chairman Peter Page said the offences were so serious that Burgess had to go to jail.

Mr Page warned that Burgess had shown a lack of co-operation, he had been guilty of persistent offences and he had shown a lack of remorse.

He had been convicted at three earlier trials of two charges each of harassment, obstructing a police officer and making annoying phone calls. He was also found guilty of causing damage, assaulting a police officer and failing to surrender to custody. Burgess had denied all nine charges.

He had also denied five other charges relating to alleged incidents at a Trimley St Martin Parish Council meeting and these were dropped.

Burgess was given a 13-week jail sentence, of which he must serve half, and an anti-social behaviour order until further notice. He also cannot contact Mr Youngs, enter his house or damage the adjoining garden fence. He is not allowed contact the parish council vice chairman John Barker or Ms Westover.

The costs of the trials totalled more than £1,000 and the damage to the fence was estimated at £120. Burgess was not asked to make any payments.

At his last court appearance in September Burgess had lost his temper, struggled with police and was arrested. But when he appeared for sentencing yesterday he remained calm and almost silent throughout the three-hour case.

Burgess, a widower and retired engineering worker who used to work for Ipswich firm Ransomes Sims and Jeffries, served with the Army between 1942 and 46. He was a rifleman with the 8th Army in Italy.

Mr Youngs, in a written statement, said: “I feel constantly apprehensive at all times and I worry about the unpredictability of his behaviour.''

He said he had become depressed and he had not slept well while Burgess was in prison on remand and he was worried what would happen when Burgess returned home. Mr Youngs declined to comment after the sentence.

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