UK

Police apologise to gay couple forced to endure years of homophobic abuse by neighbour from hell

Emma Powys Maurice June 20, 2021
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homophobic neighbour

The women endured two years of misery at the hands of their neighbour (Stock image: Envato)

Police have apologised to a gay couple who were subjected to a horrifying two-year campaign of harassment from a homophobic neighbour from hell.

Jessica and Lisa from Chatham, Kent, suffered a torrent of homophobia and intimidating behaviour from the middle-aged family man, who has now been ordered not to have any contact with them.

Their two-year ordeal included tyres being slashed, food waste emptied in the garden, a rock lobbed through their window and threats to strangle them and break down their door.

On one occasion the couple say the neighbour and “about nine members of his family” arrived on their doorstep hurling obscenities and accusing them of being “pervs”.

The women, both former police officers, told Kent Online they were appalled by the lack of action from Kent Police in response to their complaints.

Of the 40 separate incidents recorded by the couple, 17 were reported to the police, but on many occasions officers did not attend to take statements and they say the abuse was not “taken seriously”.

“We never retaliated, that would have been professional suicide,” Lisa told the paper. “What I find worrying is that we were serving police officers and not taken seriously.

“What if you are vulnerable, can’t speak English or have other issues? The message from us is to stand up for yourself and your rights.”

They were basically calling me a sex offender

The problems began in 2018 when Jessica, 31, moved in and asked the neighbour to move a vehicle as she was expecting a removal van. When he stubbornly refused the council slapped him with a fine, which only inflamed the situation further.

At Halloween several of the neighbour’s relatives blocked the doorstep saying children shouldn’t approach the women because they were “pervs”.

“They were basically calling me a sex offender,” Jessica said.

As time went on they found their neighbour’s vehicles consistently blocking their drive and the tyres to their campervan slashed, while his threats grew increasingly violent.

Afraid to leave the house, the couple carried their phones with them everywhere and stepped up security with CCTV cameras, leaving them feeling like they were “living in a fortress”.

At one point they felt so intimidated they fled to another address for months. Yet Kent Police still did not take them seriously – which was a “major factor” in Jessica and Lisa’s decision to leave the police about three months ago.

Police have now admitted the way they dealt with the abuse ordeal fell “below the required standard”, and say officers involved were given “words of advice and learning” after the two women officially complained.

A Kent Police spokesman told Kent Online: “We received two complaints from a person involved in a neighbour dispute. The first was received in February 2020 and questioned the quality of parts of the investigation.

“The second complaint concerned the disclosure of personal information, namely the complainant’s profession, which had been shared with the defence team as part of the court proceedings.

“Following review of both complaints, they were upheld and it was found the service provided fell below the required standard. The victim was updated and officers were given words of advice and learning.”

A 48-year-old man appeared in court on 3 June charged with offences under the Public Order Act.

He received a 12-month community order, including a curfew, and a six-month restraining order not to go to the women’s address. He was also ordered to pay £200 court costs.

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