‘Neighbour from hell’ spared jail due to age

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An 81-year-old pensioner who became one of the oldest people in the country to be given an ASBO after subjecting his next door neighbours to six years of “hell” has walked free from court despite breaching the order by continuing to 
torment them.

Nightmare neighbour William Seed began his campaign of “hate” against Carolyn and William 
Maxwell when the couple erected a fence on their property, shortly after moving into their bungalow in 2008.

Harassment campaign:  Bill Seed, pictured going into court yesterday, has been spared jail for subjecting his neighbours to six years of hell

Harassment campaign: Bill Seed, pictured going into court yesterday, has been spared jail for subjecting his neighbours to six years of hell

Since then, schoolteacher Mrs Maxwell, 43, who lives with her 48-year-old husband and their two children at their home in Longridge, says Seed has driven the family to despair.

In August 2013, the great-grandfather, who moved into his home 44 years ago, was slapped with an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) for an harassment campaign which included continuously beeping his car horn at all hours of day and night, making howling noises and bird noises, scraping shovels along the floor to make a noise, whistling, and driving slowly past the Maxwells while staring.

A court heard previously how dead rats and rabbits, chickens’ feet and a mallards head were thrown into his neighbours’ garden and he repeatedly accused Mrs Maxwell of having an affair.

Seed pleaded guilty to harassing his neighbours and was given community supervision for 12 months and was banned from using foul or abusive language along with his ASBO.

But yesterday Seed, a retired HGV driver, was again hauled before the courts for breaching the conditions of his ASBO after continuing the abuse by beeping his horn at the Maxwells and throwing bags over the fence into their garden.

Andy Robinson, prosecuting, said: “There have been five or six separate incidents since March this year.”

Blackburn Magistrates Court heard on one occasion Mr Maxwell was driving to work and saw Mr Seed throwing a bag over the fence, which contained news cuttings about neighbours from hell.

On March 24, the couple were at home and heard Seed’s car horn, which went off continuously for a long period of time.

Then, on June 25, the court heard how Seed began “shouting, swearing and being abusive” towards the couple for playing their radio in their garden, making threats towards them with a “large metal pole” he was holding.

Sentencing Seed, presiding magistrate Richard Clews said: “The report makes for a very sorry read. This has been an ongoing campaign of harassment which has been going on for years with no sign of abatement. I’m not prepared to accept that your neighbours are in any way to blame.

“All they would like is to live their lives in peace which is not a great deal to ask.

“Last year, you were made the subject of an ASBO after a long-running dispute with your neighbours and you were given a community order at the same time. In March you breached this and it has gone on for far too long.

“There are only two ways to bring this to an end.

“You can either look at yourself in the mirror and make a decision to bring it to an end or the other option is for the court to send you to prison. There are a catalogue of incidents I have heard about that are so serious they can only be dealt with by a custodial sentence.

“But, you are 81-years-old and you are not in the best of health and you look after your wife, who is of a similar age.

“No court would want to send an 81-year-old man to prison but I can assure you it will if it needs to.”

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Maxwell, a council worker, said he was disappointed with the sentence. He said: “We were hoping for a prison sentence. We knew he’d play on the fact he’s 81, but his health doesn’t stop him harassing us.

“I think he thinks of himself as a loveable rogue and he believes he’s always right.

“He doesn’t have a lot in his life and he just sits and waits for us to get home.

“He is so hateful towards our family and it has been absolute hell.

“He’s so bitter inside and I know this won’t be the last.

“It’s not fair that we are left to suffer.”

Mrs Maxwell added: “All we want is for him to leave us alone so we can enjoy our lives.”

Seed was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years, and his ASBO was extended for five years.

He was fined £165 and was given a curfew to last four months.

It is not the first time that Seed has avoided jail, having been given a community rehabilitation order and fines in 2003 after admitting killing up to 10 cats in the neighbourhood.

He admitted smashing the cats over the heads with a hammer and then drowning them in a dustbin filled with water.