'Pitchfork' pensioner jailed for putting his fingers through neighbour's letterbox

·3-min read
'Pitchfork' pensioner jailed for putting his fingers through neighbour's letterbox
'Pitchfork' pensioner jailed for putting his fingers through neighbour's letterbox

A pensioner banned from contacting his neighbours has been jailed again – for putting his fingers through next door’s letterbox.

John Douglas, 72, had only been out of prison for a matter of days when he went to his neighbour’s front door in Maple Avenue, Kidlington, and probed beneath the flap. A restraining order, imposed after he went up to the door with a pitchfork, prevents him from contacting the family next door.

The latest incident came just a matter of days after his release from HMP Bullingdon for doing almost exactly the same thing in March.

Courts have previously heard he claims to have an 'thing against' Ethiopian people like his neighbours.

Appearing before Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, Douglas, of Maple Avenue, Kidlington, pleaded guilty to breach of a restraining order.

Douglas was sentenced to 26 weeks – or six months’ – imprisonment.

Oxford Mail: Oxford Magistrates' Court, where Douglas was sentenced
Oxford Mail: Oxford Magistrates' Court, where Douglas was sentenced

Oxford Magistrates' Court, where Douglas was sentenced

Earlier this month, a judge at the city’s crown court imposed a sentence of 10 months for breaching the order in March. However, because he had served the majority of the sentence on remand, he was released within days.

Julian Lynch, mitigating for Douglas at that hearing, said of a number of psychiatric and probation reports done on his client: “Those reports paint a pretty clear picture of a man who’s now in his 70s who made it through 72 years of his life without previous convictions.

“But [he is now] trapped in a situation that arises at least in part out of his mental health difficulties but which mental health services seem unable or unwilling to treat.

“And, since he’s a man who owns his own home and has on the face of it means, social services won’t help either.

“So, he’s come back before this court for breaching an order put in place quite properly to protect his neighbours, who need protecting. But the powers of this court in reality to prevent something happening again are extremely limited.”

READ MORE: Conditional discharge for pensioner

Douglas felt ‘more comfortable’ in prison than at home, as he was looked after and could not trouble his neighbours.

Oxford Mail: Douglas was sentenced at the crown court earlier this month Picture: ED NIX
Oxford Mail: Douglas was sentenced at the crown court earlier this month Picture: ED NIX

Douglas was sentenced at the crown court earlier this month Picture: ED NIX

Judge Ian Pringle QC, the sentencing judge on that occasion, urged the defendant to sell his house with the help of friends.

“The reality is you can’t, really, on a long-term basis stay in your own home. You’re going to need to sell that and you’re going to need to leave,” he said.

At the start of the year, the crown court heard about the difficulties Douglas’ then solicitors had trying to get the council’s social services department to assess him for supported housing.

Peter du Feu, the pensioner’s then barrister, said his client was happy at HMP Bullingdon. “We’re using it, because he’s very comfortable there, as a quasi care home.”

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward

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