A MAN threatened to stab his neighbour and branded him a “paedo” for decorating his front garden with Christmas lights, a court heard.
Adam Smith admitted confronting his next-door neighbour, Ian Woodage, about his festive lights outside their homes in Beechfield, Frilsham, in the early hours of December 19.
Reading Magistrates Court heard how Mr Smith, an unemployed father of eight, shouted to Mr Woodage to turn the lights off as he returned from walking his dog at around 2.30am.
Lesley Gilmore, prosecuting, said Mr Smith had then shouted: “You’ve got Christmas lights up, but you don’t even have children; you’re trying to lure children into your garden.”
In a witness statement, Mr Woodage’s partner said Mr Smith had “seemed to want a fight” and had talked of stabbing Mr Woodage during the incident.
Ms Gilmore went on: “Mr Smith grabbed the fence and lifted it up out of the ground and threw the fence towards Mr Woodage.
“Mr Smith was then pulled inside by his wife, shouting ‘You’re a paedo, I know, I’ve checked. I’m going to put posters up in Thatcham’.”
Police were called and arrived at the scene shortly after.
In a victim impact statement read out to the court, Mr Woodage, who suffers from fibromyalgia, had said he now fears for his and his partner’s safety.
“I’m worried all the time, especially when my partner goes out with the dog,” he said.
“I’ve bought her a body-worn video camera.
“I hope if he knows it’s recorded it will put him off violent behaviour in the future.”
Mr Smith pleaded guilty to one count of using threatening behaviour and one count of criminal damage at Reading Magistrates Court on Thursday, February 23.
Jennifer Lewin, defending, told the court how the incident had been the result of an ongoing neighbour dispute between the pair, labelling it as “six of one and half a dozen of the other”.
She said Mr Woodage had used expletives toward Mr Smith as the confrontation began.
She explained how Mr Smith had received visits to his home from social services, environmental health and the RSPCA and her client believed Mr Woodage to be responsible for contacting the authorities.
Ms Lewin also said the 33-year-old had been concerned that the flashing Christmas lights may have exacerbated one of his sons’ epilepsy.
Mr Smith also claimed he had hurled the fence in anger after he had slipped in mud during the altercation.
Sentencing Mr Smith, district judge Khan said Mr Woodage was a “very vulnerable victim” and the only mitigation was the defendant’s guilty plea.
Considering a community sentence, he added: “Some of the language and the words used in a small community – I can see how that’s upsetting.
“The victim was fearing he was going to be stabbed and was called a paedo.”
However, after hearing a probation report which said Mr Smith was soon hoping to secure employment, the district judge handed down a £200 fine, which included a payment of compensation to Mr Smith.
Mr Smith would also be given an electronically-monitored curfew between the hours of 10pm and 4am for four weeks.
On hearing the punishment, Mr Smith refused to pay the compensation to his neighbour.
Pleading with the defendant, district judge Khan said: “As a dad of eight children I don’t want to send you to prison for eight days, but if you say to me ‘I will not pay it’ then I’m running out of options.”
Mr Smith was sent to the cells for a short time to “think it over” before he returned to the courtroom and accepted the punishment.
The curfew was put in place that evening.