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Neighbour found guilty of harassment

PUBLISHED: 07:31 03 June 2009 | UPDATED: 09:54 06 July 2010

A man who put up signs warning neighbours to keep off his land has been found guilty of harassment.

Former painter and decorator George Gerbex, 55, put up the signs outside his home in Lowestoft Road, Beccles, to face the properties owned by two other families.

A man who put up signs warning neighbours to keep off his land has been found guilty of harassment.

Former painter and decorator George Gerbex, 55, put up the signs outside his home in Lowestoft Road, Beccles, to face properties owned by two other families. He denied two charges of harassment but was found guilty by district judge David Cooper after a trial at Lowestoft Magistrates' Court on Monday.

Gerbex was given a one-year condit-ional discharge and was banned from putting up any more signs or from speaking to his victims except through a solicitor. The court did not hear any evidence from Gerbex, but two couples appeared to confirm statements they had given about the distress his actions had caused.

The judge said Gerbex's actions were a mystery to him and warned him he would face jail if he put up more signs. He added: "You humil-iated them, and it was done quite deliberately… It must cease. Life is too short for this unhappiness and distress to go on."

Prosecutor Rebecca Wastall read the statements on behalf of Gerbex's neighbours. In one, given last year, Mark Gladwell said he and his wife Tracey had been harassed for two-and-a-half years and that the new "keep out" sign replaced an earlier version. Mr Gladwell said: "I felt gutted when I saw the signs and was full of pessimism about the future.

"They are placed in such a way

that you can see them when you leave the house and get home."

Mark Crawford, who lives next door to Gerbex with partner Victoria Reeve, also told of the impact on his life and said he wanted to live in peace. Both men denied intruding on Gerbex's property, and the court heard the signs had been removed.

Rob Barley, defending Gerbex, said he did not believe his actions amoun-ted to an offence. "They [the signs] are not abusive or insulting; they simply advised his neighbours of his views and advised them to stay away," he said. "It's a sad reflection on society… that something of this nature has found its way before the court.

"What we do have are clearly neigh-bours who have in the past fallen out. Mr Gerbex does not want his neigh-bours on his property and wants them to stay out."

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