Sat, 22 Feb 2020
A NEWBURY man has been found guilty of breaching a restraining order designed to protect a vulnerable woman.
During his trial at Reading Crown Court earlier this month, 56-year-old Phillip Prior, of Victoria Grove, insisted he was the victim and that he was in fact the one being provoked and harassed.
However, jurors did not believe his account and found Prior – who wore a white T-shirt with the word ‘Justice’ printed on it for the hearing – guilty.
In March 2019, Prior was made subject to the two-year restraining order after being convicted of harassing his neighbour, Jade Potter.
The order forbids him from contacting – directly or indirectly – his victim.
However, Prior was back in the dock at Reading Crown Court where he was accused of breaching the order by sending a letter to another neighbour about a long-standing problem over parking.
In the letter, addressed to Mr and Mrs Rooks, Prior asks them to speak to Miss Potter about her parking in their allocated parking space.
Giving evidence, Mr Rooks said he did not have use of a car and was happy to allow Miss Potter to park there.
Prior had admitted to writing and sending the letter to Mr and Mrs Rooks, but denied it amounted to indirect contact.
At the hearing, he argued it was a “polite letter”, which he was within his rights to send.
Paul Fairley, prosecuting, said: “If you are lucky you get on with your neighbours.
“Sometimes you get on very well.”
He added: “At the other end of the spectrum there are those who make their neighbours’ lives a misery.
“That is what the Crown says this case is essentially about.”
“The Crown say it is as plain as day that this amounted to indirect contact.
“It was a flagrant disregard of his court order.”
When asked why he sent the letter, Prior said: “Miss Potter has caused much concern to me and I am worried about what they would do to my car.”
Miss Potter, who is deaf and gave evidence via a translator, said she only used the Rooks’ parking space when the visitors spaces were full and always asked them first if she could do so.
When asked how the letter made her feel, Miss Potter said: “It made me feel upset. I felt angry. I feel really intimidated.
“I lost my confidence.
“I just feel really emotional about it all.”
Miss Potter reported the letter to the police, who subsequently arrested Prior.
He claimed that she was parking her car next to his to deliberately wind him up and provoke him into breaching the restraining order.
When Adam Fairley, defending, put that to her, Miss Potter said: “I had no choice. I really wish Mr and Mrs Rooks’ car parking space was somewhere else, but it wasn’t.”
“When the visitor spaces were full there was no other place for me to park.
“There was no other option otherwise I would have to park on the road, which would make it very difficult for me as a deaf woman with a one-month-old baby.”
Jurors found Prior guilty and he is due to be sentenced on February 28.