A Coventry roofing firm boss launched a campaign of harassment against his neighbour after the pensioner complained about the pollution when he burned materials in his garden.
Warwick Crown Court heard that Darren Wilson’s terrorising of the 74-year-old escalated after he and his firm were fined for breaching an environmental health order.
Wilson (45) of Wall Hill Road, Allesley, Coventry, pleaded guilty to putting her in fear of violence by harassment.
Talbir Singh, prosecuting, said the retired 74-year-old had lived at her home for 17 years, with Wilson as her neighbour for the last seven.
“The smoke would go over into her garden, and it would have a grave impact on her health, particularly her lungs.
“It didn’t happen very often at first, about three times a year, and she would visit his home and ask him to refrain.
“… things came to a head in the summer of 2013 when he began to increase the number of occasions he had fires.”
She sent him a note asking him to stop, and explaining why, and he took round a bottle of wine by way of an apology and assured her it would not happen again – but it did.
His neighbour contacted the council, and in January last year Wilson was issued with an abatement notice; but he ignored it and breach proceedings began.
In February, his neighbour heard crackling and a loud boom and saw smoke coming from Wilson’s garden.
When she told him he was breaking the law, he responded: “If it’s war you want, it’s war you’ll get. I’m good at destroying things by fire. I can do a lot of creeping round at night around your bungalow.”
She went back inside, locked the door and called the police and the environmental officers who issued another notice.
In June she had to call the police again after Wilson began banging on her door and windows; and he was aggressive towards officers who served him with a harassment warning notice – at which he claimed it was them harassing him.
The following month he and his business were found guilty of breaching the abatement notice following a trial at Nuneaton magistrates, during which his neighbour gave evidence, and were fined.
His harassment continued in September reversed his car to block her in as she was going out.
She locked her car doors as he shouted at her: “You’re responsible. £21,000 I’ve got to pay because of you.”
The woman, who could not call the police because she had left her phone at home, said he had brought it on himself, at which he threatened: “You’re not going to be able to live in your property. I’m going to terrorise you for the rest of your life.”
He continued threatening her for several minutes, telling her: “I could put you in hospital. I could smash up your car and your house. You wait and see what I’m going to do.”
In May this year an appeal was listed against the finding in the magistrates court, with his neighbour again due to give evidence, but Wilson abandoned the appeal.
After she got home, she was sitting with her daughter and her partner when Wilson knocked on her door and began ranting: “Are you happy about what happened to me in court? I’m going to be on to you and get my own back. I’m just waiting for the right moment.”
But when her daughter also came to the door recording him on her phone, his demeanour changed.
Mr Singh said there had been a report of a further alleged incident last month, and although that matter has since been marked ‘case closed,’ Judge Alan Parker adjourned the case for information to be obtained about it.
Wilson was granted bail, but the judge remarked: “I am very concerned about the campaign which appears to have been conducted against the complainant.”