Man harassed neighbour with tape of dog barking

Tuesday 14 September 2010 16:41

An unemployed engineer who recorded his neighbour's terrier barking and replayed it in the early hours to annoy her was sentenced to a 12-month community order today.

Andrew Nicklin, who admitted waging a campaign of harassment against Catherine Farrell, was also made the subject of a two-year restraining order and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service.

Nicklin, of Nuthurst Road, West Heath, Birmingham, pleaded guilty last month to a single count of harassment without violence at the city's magistrates' court.

The earlier hearing was told that Nicklin banged on Ms Farrell's fence and played his drums loudly after becoming angry at the barking of her Yorkshire terrier cross, Buster.

But despite being arrested several times by police, 50-year-old Nicklin continued to harass Ms Farrell, whose sleep was disrupted.

The offences, which spanned a period of almost two years, left Ms Farrell, who also claimed to have been sworn at on her driveway, feeling like a prisoner in her own home.

Passing sentence at Birmingham Magistrates' Court, District Judge Jack McGarva accepted that references handed to the court by the defendant painted a picture of a hard-working man who contributed to various aspects of society.

But the judge added: "No one could say that the recording of and playing of a dog barking in the early hours of the morning is a proportionate response to any problems that you might have with your neighbour.

"It's not what you would expect from a normal, hard-working member of society."

But Mr McGarva said he felt able to pull back from a custodial sentence and impose an order which would both rehabilitate Nicklin and protect his neighbour from further harassment.

Balraj Singh Sahota, representing Nicklin, said his client - who was involved with a local choral union - had been wrongly portrayed in media reports as a "mad man".

Ms Farrell's decision to buy a dog had caused the problem, Mr Sahota told the court before sentence was handed down.

The terms of the restraining order bar Nicklin - who was also ordered to pay £250 in costs - from making any contact with Ms Farrell, who has been his neighbour for around 10 years.

Mr Sahota added: "He does accept that he needs to move on - that he needs to reconcile with his neighbour and improve the situation."