Wensleydale man sentenced for harassment campaign against neighbour

Arnold Alderson swore and gesticulated to the CCTV cameras.

A Wensleydale man has been ordered to carry out unpaid community work for a harassment campaign which made his neighbour’s life a misery.

Arnold Alderson, 64, made Neil Platts and his family’s life “hell” during a toxic neighbours’ dispute which left the businessman with high blood pressure and in general ill health, a court heard this week.

Alderson, a labourer and farmhand, took exception when the Platts installed CCTV around their property at Preston Mill, Wensley Station.

The dispute, which began after Mr Platts, 49, and his family moved into their new house next door to Alderson in 2019, centred on a rear yard which was used by Alderson but through which Mr Platts had right of way.

Tensions heightened when Mr Platts, the managing director of an IT company, began parking his vehicles on the yard with the consent of the estate owner, which infuriated Alderson.

“Since around 2020, there’s been a very toxic relationship regarding that parking right,” prosecutor Louise Berry told York Magistrates’ Court.

Alderson damaged a Mitsubishi L200 pick-up truck belonging to Mr Platts but was given an absolute discharge for that offence in December last year.

“Following that (incident), the victim has installed extensive CCTV all around his property including the yard where the vehicles are parked,” added Ms Berry.

“CCTV has captured a number of times when the defendant (was) sneaking around the back of the victim’s property taking photos of his property and on several occasions ‘giving the fingers’, a ‘V’ sign, up to the camera, and one occasion where he can be heard shouting ‘fxxx off.’”

Mr Platts also alleged that Alderson had left a dead rat on his doorstep but although this formed part of the original harassment charge, the prosecution ultimately dropped it from the indictment.

The court heard a woman who lived in the village said she had had a conversation with Alderson in which he told her: “Don’t worry, I’m grinding them down to get them out.”

Mr Platts and his wife Claire called in police and Alderson was brought in for questioning.

“He accepted there was some animosit and he said he often swears at the camera and said that was due to the victim invading his privacy by having CCTV,” said Ms Berry.

“The CCTV only covers the victim’s property – it doesn’t point into the defendant’s property at all.”

Alderson, of Preston Mill Farm, Wensley Station in Preston-under-Scar, was charged with harassment which occurred between August 27 and September 17 last year, but he initially denied the allegation.

His trial was set down for March, but he pleaded guilty on the day and there followed a series of adjournments until he was finally sentenced yesterday.

In a victim-impact statement read out in court, Mr Platts, a father-of-four, said that Alderson’s behaviour had had a “traumatic effect on my home life and my health”.

“We now actually avoid any confrontation and contact with Mr Alderson, effectively rendering the back door of our property a no-go area when we know he is at home.

“We do not use the front garden unless we know he is not at home. The stress and anxiety have had a marked impact on my health, with me recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure due to stress. We feel trapped in our own home.”

He said that Alderson’s behaviour had “weighed heavily on me” and left him “in disrepair”.

Alderson’s lawyer Caroline Aaron said: “The victim moved into the property (and) Mr Alderson took some photos regarding (what he claimed was) a land dispute. CCTV shows him looking up at the camera gesticulating and on one occasion he swears as well.”

She said that Alderson, the son of a gamekeeper who had lived at the property all his life, had taken exception to the installation of CCTV “because it shows where he walks around outside his house”.

“He considers that an invasion of privacy, but he’s accepted that the victim can park outside his house,” she added.

Alderson received a 12-month community order with 100 hours of unpaid work and a 25-day rehabilitation programme. He was also given a restraining order, to last for an indefinite period, banning him from contacting Mr and Mrs Platts and prohibiting him from encroaching on their land.

Mr Platts, who was in the public gallery to see the sentence, said after the case that he had “two years’ worth of evidence against Alderson” but that the Crown Prosecution Service had only decided to indict his neighbour on offending which occurred over a two-to-three-week period.

He said that he and his wife had to “push and push and push” the authorities to prosecute Alderson.

“It’s just been horrific to get to this point,” he added.

“I feel we might have a level of protection now from the courts and I hope to get a bit of peace from it.”