A PENSIONER who has caused havoc in a South Tyneside street for almost two decades threatened to burn his neighbour’s property down, a court was told.
Eighty-nine-year-old John Bushell was first issued with a restraining order for verbally abusing his next door neighbours Kenneth and Marjorie Mills in 1998.
The retired bookmaker, of Mill Crescent, Hebburn, has breached that order 10 times – resulting in five further convictions.
He was back before South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday and admitted the latest breach. He was sentenced to an eight-week custodial sentence, suspended for two years.
Bushell was also ordered to pay costs of £250 and a victim surcharge of £80.
The outburst over a garden fence came as Bushell claimed the poor state of neighbouring properties was putting off would-be buyers of his home.
Steven Davies, prosecuting, said: “Mr Mills was in his garden in the afternoon with another neighbour.
“They were aware that Mr Bushell was in his garden next door and he was heard to shout various things, including saying ‘I’m going to get shot of yous, burn your house down before I die’, and it seems that those remarks were directed at Mr Mills.”
Charlton Carr, defending, said: ”I would say these were empty threats without any intention of actually carrying them out. This gentleman is 89 years old.
“He is a very houseproud man who likes everything in its place, in its proper place, and unfortunately he hasn’t got on with his neighbours over a period of time because he feels they don’t appear to look after their properties in the same manner.
“Consequently, this offence arises out of his frustration that, when people come to view his house, and they see that others are not in as nice a state as his, he thinks that will affect the value for which he can sell his house.”
District Judge Helen Cousins said: “Your garden looks very beautiful but you can’t behave as you did.
“You have got previous convictions for doing exactly the same thing.
“The two-year suspended sentence should allow you time to sell your house and spend the rest of your life in peace.”
After the court case, Mr Mills, 69, thanked his other neighbours for their support over the latest court case. He said: “All of them have been magnificent.”
Mr Bushell added: “I’ve taken the house off the market. Who is going to buy it when you see the state of the gardens around here?”
Long history of OAP’s short fuse
• 1960: Bushell moves in to Mill Crescent in Hebburn when it is built.
Houseproud Bushell has several disputes with neighbours over the following decades, many centred on those whose homes and gardens he believe didn’t match his idea of perfection.
Neighbours said Bushell had made their lives hell by painting a whitewashed wall black out of spite, tipping rubbish into gardens and arranging guttering so rain water emptied into his neighbours’ property.
• 1998: Bushell is made the subject of a restraining order for pestering neighbours Marjorie and Ken Mills.
• 2001: Bushell is jailed at Newcastle Crown Court for three months after admitting three charges of harassment.
After seeing a secret video of Bushell still harassing his neighbours, Judge Michael Cartlidge told him: “We all love our homes, but this is hopeless. This is not someone with a short fuse. It is someone with no fuse at all.”
• 2006: Bushell narrowly escapes being jailed for a second time. The pensioner, then 81, could have gone to prison after twice ignoring a restraining order which prevents him harassing his neighbours.
South Tyneside magistrates decided to fine him heavily instead after he admitted the breaches and threatening to commit criminal damage.
• 2013: Bushell vows his campaign of hate is over after he appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court to be sentenced for his latest breach of the restraining order, which saw him hurl abuse at Mr and Mrs Mills and call them “scumbags”.