Nightmare neighbour forced autistic pensioner to brink of suicide over 3ft picket fence

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A NIGHTMARE neighbour who sent an autistic pensioner into ‘meltdown’ in a seething rage over her 3ft-high picket fence has been given a restraining order.

Magistrates heard Michael Essam subjected his next door neighbour 67-year-old Su Seymour to a year of torment after Gosport Borough Council installed the border around her front garden last year.

Su Seymour at her home with the fence. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Su Seymour at her home with the fence. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The 47-year-old of Osborn Crescent, a contractor for the authority, took a bizarre exception to the fence and began the abuse last August – leaving his victim on the brink of suicide.

Essam, who has now been banned from speaking with his neighbour, repeatedly peered into Ms Seymour’s home, threw coffee over her car and called her a witch.

Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard his vile behaviour extended to blocking her back gate with bins, banging on her home’s internal walls, taking pictures of her and mocking her autism.

Ms Seymour, who has severe autism, faced her antagonist and read a victim impact statement in court.

Michael Essam, 47, of Osborn Crescent, Fareham, outside Portsmouth Magsistrates' Court on Friday

Michael Essam, 47, of Osborn Crescent, Fareham, outside Portsmouth Magsistrates' Court on Friday

‘It is important the court understands how Michael Essam has used my disability against me – I did not have any problem with him until I got my fence,’ she said.

‘Despite police visiting him the behaviour has only gone on to get worse. He has made me feel at my absolute lowest and has made me think about ending my own life.’

Magistrates heard Essam’s behaviour from August last year left his victim fearful she could lose her carers, whom he had also ‘intimidated’.

Stephen Bentley, mitigating, suggested Essam objected to Ms Seymour’s fence as his housing agreement said he cannot have one.

Su Seymour, 67, outside Portsmouth Magistrates' Court on Friday

Su Seymour, 67, outside Portsmouth Magistrates' Court on Friday

He told magistrates’ bench chairman Stephen Waller that Essam has battled with a severe brain injury suffered as an adolescent after a car crash left him in a coma. Mr Bentley said: ‘He regrets it and is adamant he will not commit this behaviour in the future.’

Mr Waller fined Essam £200 with a year-long restraining order. Essam admitted harassment, and using threatening, abusive words or behaviour causing harassment, alarm or distress charges.

Victim: ‘I can’t see why he hasn’t stopped...’

DESPITE magistrates enforcing a 12-month restraining order, Ms Seymour remains sceptical of a future free of harassment.

Speaking outside Portsmouth Magistrates Court, the Gosport autism ambassador said of Mr Waller’s sentence: ‘I’m not happy with it. I’m happy there’s a restraining order, that should help, but not the rest.’ 

The 67-year-old was supported by a friend as she read out a victim impact statement yesterday.

After leaving court, she said: ‘When I was reading I was getting really upset. I was thinking of everything he has done. However many times the police have had him in and talked under caution, and then even coming to court, he has still done it. That’s what scares me.’