‘Neighbour from hell’ who used night-vision CCTV cameras protected by barbed wire on 13ft-high poles to ‘spy’ on locals after they became involved in bitter spat is fined £1,380
A man has been fined after he used ‘highly-intrusive’ CCTV cameras on four metre-high poles to ‘spy’ on his neighbours after they became involved in a bitter dispute.
Kevin Grogan also blocked off access to a public alleyway by installing a locked gate and filing it with building debris after claiming the land belonged to him.
The 68-year-old, from Rochdale, Greater Manchester was accused of defying police and the courts after being handed a community protection notice (CPN) following complaints.
A trial at Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how Grogan and his wife Frances became involved in a four-year battle with the occupants of an adjacent property, Mohammed Alam, 40, and his wife, over access to the alleyway, with the dispute sometimes turning violent.
Former roofer Grogan argued that he had installed the cameras, which had night-vision, audio recording and barbed-wire protection, in response to threats and violence from Mr Alam.
Therefore, he claimed, he had a ‘reasonable excuse’ for not complying with an order to reposition the cameras – described by a police as more akin to a ‘nuclear submarine base’- so they weren’t trained on public areas and neighbours’ gardens.
Kevin Grogan (pictured) blocked off access to a public alleyway by installing a locked gate and filing it with building debris after claiming the land belonged to him
And he denied keeping the gate to the alleyway locked, even though he’d installed a padlock and chain.
But a district judge today dismissed his claims and found him guilty of two charges of failing to comply with the CPN.
Grogan had already been convicted in October 2021 for using a trailer to block access to the alleyway, for which he was handed a six-month conditional discharge.
Ms Tineka O’Mara, prosecuting, previously told the court that the case related to a neighbour dispute and Grogan had fenced off the alleyway and erected the cameras to ‘enforce’ his claims to common land.
She said it resulted in complaints from residents and Grogan was initially handed a community protection warning and then a CPN by police in March 2021.
He was ordered to stop blocking the alleyway, remove building waste, the cameras and the poles but Grogan appealed and a judge revised the CPN in May 2022, requiring him to reposition the cameras so they only only overlooked his property.
But Grogan was still unhappy and appealed once more, although this time his application was thrown out by another judge.
Former former police sergeant Richard Garland told how he visited Grogan’s home, in Queensway, Rochdale, in February and June 2002 to check whether he had complied with the revised CPN.
That required him to stop blocking access to the alleyway and remove ‘barbed wire festooned camera poles’ and sight his CCTV cameras so they were only trained on the ‘curtilage’ of his home.
Sergeant Garland described the cameras as ‘highly-intrusive’ and said he had put bin bags over them to ‘nudge’ Grogan into removing them.
But when he returned, he found the bin bags had been partly ripped down.
He later seized the cameras, but said that Grogan had then erected new ones.
Grogan had already been convicted in October 2021 for using a trailer to block access to the alleyway, for which he was handed a six-month conditional discharge
Former roofer Grogan argued that he had installed the cameras, which had night-vision, audio recording and barbed-wire protection, in response to threats and violence from Mr Alam
Sergeant Garland also told the court he was unable to gain access to the alleyway due to the gate being locked.
Giving evidence, Grogan said the dispute dated back to 2019 when Mr Alam had moved into his property.
He claimed that he only fitted the cameras because Mr Alam was ‘violent and verbally abusive’ and had made threats to harass him, damage his property, and get family members to ‘beat up’ him and his wife.
Grogan admitted to placing a padlock and chain on the gate but insisted it hadn’t been locked and ‘access was available at all times’.
He claimed Mr Alam had placed the debris in the alleyway and that could have prevented the gate from opening inwards.
Grogan argued that he had taken steps to comply with the order but when he attempted to do so in May 2021 Mr Alam had reversed his car against him and pinned him against the fence, leaving him needing A&E treatment.
He also claimed he and his wife had been attacked by Mr Alam in June 2021.
Grogan claimed a neighbour had ripped off the bin bags covering the camera – although his wife told the court that he was responsible – and she’d taken the decision to erect new cameras after PS Garland ‘stole’ the originals.
He also labelled PS Garland ‘corrupt’ for failing to investigate alleged incidents after the officer said many of Grogan’s complaints to police had ‘not stood up to scrutiny’.
James Hudson, defending, said Grogan had a ‘reasonable excuse’ for having the cameras due to threats from Mr Alam, who ‘had been the trouble-maker in the dispute’.
He pointed out that Mr Alam had recently been convicted of a public order offence following an incident between the pair in February 2022.
Grogan locked off access to a public alleyway by installing a locked gate and filing it with building debris after claiming the land belonged to him
Pictured are the CCTV cameras with microphones overlooking neighbours’ gardens
The cameras were still up, he added, and as there had been no further incidents this illustrated how they offered ‘protection’.
But District judge Tom Mitchell found Grogan guilty of two charges of failing to comply with the CPN, saying he found his evidence ‘tailored and evasive’.
‘The was no good reason why the defendant didn’t comply with the order,’ he said.
The judge said that Grogan ‘did not take all reasonable steps’ to comply with the CPN and he slammed him being ‘grossly misleading’ by claiming he had not blocked access to the alleyway when he had already been convicted for doing so.
Grogan was handed a £500 fine with an additional £250 because he had breached the order during his six-month conditional discharge period for his previous offence, a £300 victim surcharge, and £330 costs – a total of £1380.
The judge said the amount would be consolidated with £1080 already owed to the courts by Grogan.
Residents had previously described Grogan as a ‘neighbour from hell’ and a ‘real pest’ and accused him of ‘spying’ on them.
Others said they were tired of seeing the ‘junkyard’ in the alleyway and losing the public space.
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