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Reading Crown Court: It's back to prison for Newbury neighbour from hell

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A NEIGHBOUR from hell has been sent back to prison for continuing to taunt his latest victim.

Fifty-seven-year-old Philip Prior has multiple convictions for harassment dating back more than a decade and was previously imprisoned for a relentless campaign of homophobic abuse against a gay couple who lived next door to him.

In October 2019 his latest, tearful victim had to give evidence again as Prior, of Victoria Grove, Newbury, sought to have his most recent conviction and sentence overturned.

Prior (51076393)
Prior (51076393)

Jade Potter, who is deaf and who lives below Prior, told a judge at Reading Crown Court via a sign language interpreter: “He was taking pictures of me every day or watching me from the window all the time – it was like Big Brother was watching me.”

The court heard Prior would repeatedly block the entrance to her home by sunbathing or by placing obstacles in her way, all the while photographing or videoing her movements.

Eventually, he physically assaulted his pregnant victim by deliberately barging into her.

The judge rejected Prior’s evidence and accused him of “grandstanding” in the witness box.

The suspended sentence and a restraining order was upheld.

But Prior continued with his campaign and on Monday, September 6, he appeared via video link from prison at Reading Crown Court.

Sarah Ellis, prosecuting, said Prior had refused to engage with police following his latest offending.

She said they therefore had to force entry into his home, while he repeatedly shouted “police brutality”.

Prior then accused police of forging the restraining order, the court heard, and insisted he was the victim.

He was arrested and subsequently admitted breaching the suspended sentence order and restraining order.

This time, he had taunted Ms Potter by making gestures and waving his backside at her, said Ms Ellis.

The court was told that Prior had been co-operating with the probation service before his latest arrest and his barrister pleaded with the court to defer sentence while a long-term solution was sought.

Judge Kirsty Real agreed that the latest offending would ordinarily be considered fairly minor.

But she told Prior: “There has been a considerable history of incidents.

“Now not only have you breached the restraining order, but you were subject to a suspended sentence.

“This is another occasion where you pushed the boundaries imposed by the court.”

She went on: “I’ve read the victim impact statement – you’ve made her life unbearable with your continued taunting of her.

“You’ve caused her stress such that she is now on medication for depression ... this is a cumulative effect of your behaviour and she says she doesn’t know what you’re going to do next.

“This was a deliberate breach.

“If you continue to push boundaries, the sentences will get longer and longer.”

Prior was sentenced to 26 weeks imprisonment, minus the time he has already spent in custody following his arrest.

He will serve half behind bars and half on licence in the community.

Judge Real extended the restraining order, which forbids him from contacting his victim either directly or indirectly, to a 10-year term.

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