Monday, June 20, 2016

Man who claimed he was sleep talking when shouting vile abuse at neighbour avoids jail

A man who claimed he was sleep talking when he shouted abuse at his neighbour through an adjoining wall has escaped jail. Michael Jones appeared in front of magistrates in Mold accused of breaching a restraining order on three separate occasions. The court heard the 61-year-old of Penyglyn, Bagillt in Flintshire, Wales, shouted vile abuse directed at his neighbour Valerie Tattum through the wall which separated both their homes. But Jones denied three counts of breaching the restraining order,imposed in February 2015, on January 17, 19 and 24 this year. A lawyer for Jones had claimed he did not know what he was doing and was fast asleep in bed at the time.

A psychiatric report showed that he had somniloquy, where people did sleep talk, and a history of “nocturnal vocalisation”. But the prosecution claimed his sleep problems were being used “as a smoke screen.” Jones was sentenced to 120 days in custody suspended for a year and was ordered to pay £400 victims compensation and £650 in court costs. Rhian Jackson, prosecuting, told how Jones had been made the subject of an earlier restraining order by Wrexham magistrates. But he breached it by shouting vile abuse directed at his neighbour through the wall. It was alleged he seemed to enjoy shouting at people when he was angry or had been drinking.

Miss Tattum told how Jones, who she said used to be a good neighbour and friend, had repeatedly subjected her to abuse and shouts through the adjoining wall since she spoke to him about it the noise issue previously. She said the shouts were distressing and she recorded some of it on her iPhone and played it to the court. In a victim impact statement, Miss Tattum said that she had lived next door to him for 20 years but in the last two years things had deteriorated. “The last two years have been the worst period of my life,” she said. Continual abuse and threats made her fear for her safety and on occasions she was too scared to go out to push the washing on the line. She had installed CCTV cameras, felt isolated and feared that he would continue to make life hell.

Jones’ solicitor Davies Matthews said his client was not in control of his actions when he shouted out vile abuse. He said that Jones had a reasonable excuse for breaching the order and had been totally confused when arrested because he did not know what he had done. Mr Matthews said that the defendant would now sleep in a room furthest away from the adjoining wall, where wardrobes and a new carpet had been placed to help with sound proofing. He was also taking medication and was being helped by social services. As well as the suspended sentence, Jones was given a rehabilitation order and given a fresh five year restraining order which forbids him from talking loudly or shouting at his home between the hours of 6pm and 8am.

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