An 80-year-old has admitted subjecting his next-door-neighbours to five years of “soul destroying” harassment.
William Seed, of Higher Road, Longridge, pleaded guilty to the majority of offences put to him by Blackburn magistrates, including continuously beeping his car horn at all hours of the day and night, making howling noises and bird noises, scraping shovels along the floor to make a noise, whistling, and driving slowly past the couple, staring at them.
The court also heard that he had repeatedly accused schoolteacher Carolyn Maxwell of having an affair with a former police officer, and swore at her and husband William in front of children on more than one occasion, which he denies.
Mr and Mrs Maxwell said the behaviour was “like a form of water torture” and “had a ruinous effect on what should have been the best years of our lives with our young family.”
Blackburn Magistrates’ Court heard that Seed, who has a previous conviction for killing cats, began his campaign against the Maxwells after the couple erected a fence on their property, shortly after moving into their bungalow from Chorley in 2008.
Prosecuting solicitor Tom Snape said that Mr Seed had ignored penalty notices about his behaviour since 2008, resulting in police intervention and a diary being issued to the Maxwells to record his behaviour for a period between February 18, 2013 and April 13, 2013.
Mobile phone video and CCTV evidence were also submitted to police, who had witnessed Seed banging on his neighbour’s fence with a spade in an effort to wake up his neighbour’s dog.
During three police interviews, Mr Seed, a retired HGV driver who has lived in Higher Road with wife Vera for 44 years, remained in silence. He only pleaded guilty at the last occasion, and maintains that there was provocation from his neighbours.
Mr Snape read Mr and Mrs Maxwell’s impact statement to the court, which said: “It has been absolutely soul-destroying and puts a chill in our blood.
“It means that we never get a lie-in at weekends as we wake up when Mr Seed does, and it makes the children think that this is what people do.”
It continued: “This is not like living near to a public house or a train line, it’s an entirely voluntary act by this man who didn’t get his own way over one thing and has decided to make his neighbours lives hell.
“We deeply regret ever having moved next to Mr Seed. It has had a ruinous effect on what should have been the best years of our lives with our young family.
“We thought about using the same mechanisms against him, but what example would that set for the children?”
Defence solicitor Scott Parker said Seed was “certainly apologetic about what’s been going on”.
He added: “Mr Seed is 80 years of age and by his own admission, is not as educated as his neighbours.
“He has been retired a long time and has a lot of time on his hands, and that’s the problem in this situation. He has time to think about things that have happened, and what he has seen is Mr Maxwell filming him, he has rather foolishly risen to the bait and said things he wouldn’t normally say.
“He maintains that he is always careful of his language in front of young people, but he was a working man and swearing is part of his common parlance.”
A report on Seed was drawn up by the Probation Service, which stated that he “accepts that it has reached a point where a line has to be drawn”.
He was sentenced to a 12-month supervision order and has to pay a total of £250 compensation to his victims.
Speaking after the case, Mr and Mrs Maxwell said: “All we ever wanted was to have quiet lives and now we want to be left alone.”
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.