A 59-year-old man who took a catalogue of photographs of his neighbour while she carried out DIY jobs outside her home has been convicted of harassment.
John Wood, of Lower Celtic Park, Enniskillen, denied harassing his new neighbour over a six month period when he appeared at Fermanagh court.
The court heard how Wood openly took photographs of his neighbour, Roisin Gallagher, while she painted her garden wall and fence and how he shouted at workmen who were carrying out repair jobs around her home.
In a series of incidents which began when she built a fence in her back garden, Ms Gallagher was subjected to solicitor letters and night-time call-outs from police because he accused her of ‘damaging his property’.
Giving evidence in court Ms Gallagher explained that she moved into her home in March of last year.
She continued: “The first complaint was when I was building a fence in the back garden and then he came around and broke the fence and said I wasn’t going to put up any fence.
“He then came out and took photos of workmen who I had to get out to fix the fence and also took photos of visitors I had at my house from a neighbour’s garden.
“On Tuesday, July 23, he sent me a letter accusing me of breaking the fence and wanted compensation.
“When I got the letter I didn’t do anything, I was trying to get on with my life and business. I was astounded when I read that letter and was quite frightened, it was quite bizarre.
“When I first moved in, Mr Woods would be in the garden and was quite friendly, then he started doing these strange things.
“I just want to live in peace and quiet and to be left alone and that’s why I never rang the police.
After he contacted the PSNI on a number of occasions, Ms Gallagher gave a statement to police which resulted in Wood being issued with a PIN notice following her allegation of harassment.
He was arrested on August 14 for harassment.
Defence solicitor Julie Cooper stated that Wood attempted to resolve the issues in the letter in which he accused her of damaging the fence.
The defendant, who took to the stand to give evidence, explained he has lived in the area for 57 years.
He said: “I have never harassed anyone. I have good parents who raised me well. One day I told to her my faith and things deteriorated from then.
“I came out of my house one day and Miss Gallagher had suddenly built a 30ft fence to the side of my property which knocked off my guttering.”
“I decided I would take the gentle way and suggested that if she put in posts then I would forgive and forget about it. I took these photos of the scene because I noticed some yellow paint had dropped on my wall.”
District Judge Nigel Broderick stated that it appeared Wood had adopted a role as the neighbour who deals with this issue and he has taken on more responsibility than he should and goes beyond the remits of a concerned neighbour.
He added: “She was doing what any normal householder would do and then he starts taking photos of her.
“I am satisfied there were a number of incidents where she felt pestered and harassed and any reasonable person would not have embarked on this kind of behaviour.
“He seems to have some form of fixed ideas of what he should do and I want to get to the bottom of this thinking.”
The case was adjourned for fours weeks until sentencing.
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