A widower who brought misery to his elderly next door neighbours with a 13 year bombardment of insults across their garden fence has been fined £100.
Former Conservative Party Parliamentary candidate Brendan Murphy, 79, labelled Christopher Boyd a “peeping Tom” and his wife Margaret, a ”tart” after they fell out over a dispute about local gossip.
Whenever Mr Boyd, 76, and his 74-year old wife would sweep leaves from the driveway of their £500,000 home in Disley, near Stockport, Greater Manchester, Murphy would bellow: ”Morning Tom, how’s your tart today’?” from his home next door.
On one occasion while Mr Boyd was doing DIY on his roof, Murphy said: “You can do a lot of peeping from up there, you peeping Tom,” and added: “Make sure you don’t fall off that roof, I won’t be able to give you the kiss of life.”
Initially Murphy, who sits an an independent councillor on Cheshire East Council, would bark his comments through their adjoining privet hedge.
But he went on to resort to amplifying his insults when the Boyds built a six high foot fence in front of it and installed CCTV cameras to chronicle his verbal campaign.
Mr Boyd also placed an audio recorder on his fence and camcorder in his landing window to catch Murphy speaking to him.
In a statement read to Stockport magistrates court he said: ‘‘Mr Murphy seems to get pleasure out of making these comments and when walking down the road, I have to check to see if he is in his garden.
”I am anxious when my wife has to walk on her own and we are continually on guard. He jeers and goads and the level of stress has been increasing.
“We are always wondering what tomorrow will bring. I have forgotten what it is like to have a stress free life.”
Mrs Boyd said: ”This has been ongoing for a number of years, we do not wish for this to keep happening. He has no right to call me a tart and my husband a peeping Tom.
”When I wake up, I wonder if I will have a peaceful day or not. When I hear his voice, I feel churned up inside.
“He likes to bully me and the only time I can relax is when he goes out. I cannot walk down the road on my own and I do not feel safe until I am down the road.
”This has been causing an incredible amount of stress, so much so that I have had problems with my immune system.
“I am fearful when my young grandson is round in case he makes any comments. He is unpredictable and dangerous.”
On Monday Murphy was found guilty of harassment following a trial.
He was ordered to complete a 12 month community order and pay £715 in costs, and he must not contact the Boyds for six months under the terms of a restraining order.
The court heard the neighbours had lived next door to each other since 1984 and initially got on well.
But but they fell out in 2007 after Murphy reportedly accused them of spreading gossip about his late wife Iris and alleging he was underpaying his council tax.
The feud deteriorated when the Boyds put the fence up and called in the police.
In January 2011, Murphy was issued with a harassment notice and told to restrict his conversation with the Boyds to ‘Good Morning’.
But he continued to approach the couple and was convicted of harassment the following year.
Murphy won an appeal against the conviction but a restraining order remained in place and he breached it in 2015.
The court heard the latest offences took place between November 2017 and July 2019.
Mrs Boyd told the hearing: “On one occasion we were walking from our home to get our car from the garage when Mr Murphy walked towards us and bumped into my husband.
”I was holding his hand as we expected trouble at the time and am so frightened of any trouble.
“Chris said, ‘watch your step’ and he said, ‘come on then, come on then’ and I nearly fell over his dog.
”Later I was sweeping the leaves up from the ground in my own garden when Mr Murphy shouted, ‘how’s your tart today’?
“We didn’t see him but we can recognise his voice because we have known him for 30 years.
“I just went inside as it was quite distressing. He then said in the afternoon ‘Morning Tom, tough guy, threatening again’?
”He was just shouting at my husband. He calls him a peeping Tom.
“We went inside because it is very distressing. It is horrible and it is just endless.
“He says these kinds of things daily. It makes me feel frightened.”
Mrs Boyd says her neighbour asks ‘how’s that tart this morning’? on a daily basis.
Her husband, a retired draughtsman, described Murphy as “goading” and “sneering”.
“They all take the same sort of theme he calls me a dirty pervert and a peeping Tom and my wife a tart,” he added.
“There were 19 separate incidents that I reported to the police between 21 June and 27 June 2019, there are just too many to remember.
“On one occasion I had to get the case against him adjourned because I had a major operation.
”When he saw me he said ‘I thought you were supposed to be ill, you do not look ill to me’.
“This kind of thing happens all the time, it has never stopped. It is stressful when you are out in the garden and someone is shouting insults at you.
“He gets a lot of pleasure out of intimating us and thinks it is good fun.”
Murphy, who stood unsuccessfully for the Conservatives in the Vale of Clwyd in the 2001 general election, told the hearing he had ”justifiable reason” to call Mr Boyd a ‘peeping Tom’ and his wife a ‘tart’ and said some of his comments were jokes.
He added: ”I have never threatened them with physical violence. I am going to appeal this to the crown court.”