A CITY councillor broke down in floods of tears after being cleared of harassing his next door neighbours.
Max Edwin Aaron Drury, 61, of Clifford Drive, Chester, uttered the words “Thank you, sir” to District Judge Alan Jones and left the courtroom in such a hurry yesterday, he struggled to open the door.
He was acquitted of harassing neighbours David and Margaret Evans and their son Daniel by staring, being verbally abusive, making rude gestures and lighting bonfires between May 1 and July 31 this year.
Speaking at Chester magistrates at the end of the second day of the trial, Judge Jones said: “This is a case of persons who dislike each other and are staring each other out.”
Giving evidence, Cllr Drury, who resigned from the Conservative Party after being convicted of harassing a former business partner in July, was asked if he disliked the Evans family.
He said: “I refute that. I am absolutely aghast. I’m indifferent to the people. I have said that to DC David Cannell that I’m indifferent to them. I wish to get on with my life.”
And Cllr Drury, currently an independent councillor for Curzon & Westminster, revealed he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder although he simply regarded himself as eccentric. He said he may have to consider moving house if the dispute continued.
Earlier the court heard from postman David Evans, 64, who said the two families had lived alongside each other for about 34 years but alleged problems only began about eight years ago.
He recalled an incident in May while washing his car when Cllr Drury was alleged to have told him to stop because it was wetting his Jag. Mr Evans admitted swearing at Cllr Drury but claimed the councillor gestured as though he was going to hit him although the judge disregarded the evidence as irrelevant to the charge.
Mr Evans said Cllr Drury, who was elected to the new shadow Cheshire West and Chester Council in May, lit bonfires in his garden which filled the Evans’ home with “acrid smoke” but the judge said it was not unreasonable to light bonfires at that time of year.
Mr Evans’ son Daniel, 30, cited an incident on July 12, when Cllr Drury was washing his car and allegedly stopped what he was doing and stared at him before launching a tirade of abuse, making him feel as though he was about to be attacked.
But Judge Jones said, having heard Cllr Drury’s version of events, he was “not sufficiently sure of the circumstances” surrounding the confrontation.
Daniel Evans’ mum Margaret claimed Cllr Drury, who had denied the charge, would sit in his car directly outside her house each morning while he waited for his wife and stare into the house.
But the judge said it was significant that Mr Evans senior, who kept an official diary of incidents, had not recorded incidents of that nature in the booklet.
Cllr Drury’s barrister David Pojur described the case as “a petty and pathetic neighbour dispute”. He presented a solicitor’s letter to the court sent to the Evans’s after an incident in May 2003 when he claimed Cllr Drury had been subjected to an unprovoked attack while recovering from a stroke.