30 Apr 2009

Ex paratrooper 'waged guerrilla war and spied on neighbours'

A former paratrooper waged a back garden guerrilla war against his neighbours when a petty dispute got out of hand, a court heard yesterday.

Rod Scott, 64, set up a 16ft viewing platform draped in camouflage netting in his garden to observe Tony and Janet Durkin 'morning, noon and night.'

The retired teacher and his wife felt 'under siege' from his never-ending 'surveillance' and became prisoners in their own home.

He kept flood lights trained on their house and they were forced to fit reflective film on their patio windows to stop him peering inside, Sheffield magistrates were told.

Other tactics he was blamed for included poisoning trees, throwing a dead rat into their garden, lighting fires and blasting out opera music.

The eight-year long suburban feud culminated in Scott being taken to court charged with threatening behaviour against Mr Durkin on August 9 last year and harassing the couple between September 8 and 29 at their £300,000 home in Millhouses, Sheffield.

Mr Durkin said the dispute began when Scott cut down brambles in their garden to reveal an 'eyesore' in his garden, which backed on to their property.

Scott refused to paint green an assortment of door frames and old timber panels that he used to screen his garden sheds and this led to relations between them deteriorating rapidly.
Mr Durkin planted a row of trees but Scott poisoned them with diesel, the court heard. Scott left noisy rotivators running for hours to disturb their peace and played Pavarotti opera music so loudly the whole neighbourhood could hear it.

He said Scott's viewing platform was erected on top of a shed. 'He had found a point from which he could look into all our rooms at the back of the house. We are regularly surveyed from that platform.

'At one point he put what looked like a bivouac shelter or a sniper's hide up there. He could see out but we couldn't see in - our privacy was more or less non-existent by that time.'

Asked if he had ever tried to speak to Scott about the problems, Mr Durkin replied:'It's difficult to discuss anything with a psychopath who is intent on this course of action.

'We tried to talk to him at the start of this. All that did was invite a seven year war of attrition - his words - which is still going on. The whole purpose of a war of attrition is to wear people down drip by drip, day by day. I find it difficult to sleep.'

At 1.30am on August 9 Mr Durkin went to investigate after seeing Scott carrying out one of his regular patrols of the area in his car. He said Scott pulled up, wound down the window, and swore at him.

'He issued a torrent of verbal abuse and threats in a high pitched, threatening voice as I was walking along the pavement.'

Mrs Durkin, 68, who has lived there for 35 years, told the court of her fear of the 'trained killer' watching from next door.

She said: 'He is an ex para who has been dehumanised and has no sensitivity to anybody else. He has been taught about surveillance and gadgets and stuff that we have no knowledge of.

'This man has three guns in the house and admits to being a trained killer. How do you think that makes me feel? You can't imagine that fear and distress it has caused me.

'I did try to overcome my fear and distress over this man but I gave up and I don't go in the garden any more. I have developed a heart condition brought on by the stress.

'I just want him to leave us alone. He doesn't seem to care about the damage , he doesn't care. It's like being under siege. I have not been in my garden since November.There's never any peace in the garden.'

Scott was a serviceman for 38 years and told the court he was in 'special forces' before working as a freeelance helicopter pilot. He retired five years ago after suffering serious injuries in a helicopter crash.

Scott said the dispute with his neighbours began after Mr Durkin had killed 10 of his beech trees by tying chicken wire around them.

There had been a disagreement about building a fence between their gardens, he said. He denied threatening the Durkins and described Mr Durkin's behaviour towards him as 'obnoxious.'
The trial continues.

SOURCE: The Daily Mail

1 comment:

  1. Check out "The Star" newspaper Sheffield. 24th FEB2009. www.thestar.co.uk/newsNeighbour-escapes-jail-afterPavarotti.
    This is how all the trouble started



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