Burnley ‘nuisance neighbour’ treated for alcoholism

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A nuisance neighbour has been given a suspended sentence while he has treatment for alcoholism, but has been told this is his last chance.

Paul Calvert (55), of Maple Bank, Burnley, has already spent 12 weeks in prison this summer for abusive and threatening behaviour towards his neighbours. He appeared at Burnley Magistrates’ Court after breaching his Anti-Social Behaviour Order as soon as he was released.

However, because the defendant began treatment in August to deal with his alcoholism the magistrate felt that another custodial sentence would not be beneficial to him but this was his last chance.

Neighbours gave witness statements about Calvert’s behaviour on the estate near Blessed Trinity Roman Catholic College.

One, Carole Slack said in a statement: “Over the last three years my husband and I have been subject to obscene language, intimidation and shouting when coming and going from work.

“What kind of person picks on a vulnerable woman? When Mr Calvert was in prison it was the most relaxed and peaceful it had been and then, when he was released from prison, it began again and he has no regard for his ASBO, respect for the court or feelings for anyone.

“Who knows what he would be capable of doing? A threat today could be much worse tomorrow and that is what frightens me.”

Husband Les said in his statement: “He is a violent alcoholic. I have lived at my address for 17 years and he has harassed seven families in that time. He is a violent man and we should not have to put up with this behaviour.

“We want an end to our suffering by removing him from the neighbourhood.”

Another neighbour Richard Speirs added: “We suffer regular verbal abuse and my wife Rachel is anxious when she is home alone and doesn’t walk the dog during the day for fear of bumping into Paul Calvert.

“My children are afraid to play in their own front garden and we moved here for a safe environment so they could enjoy their childhood.

“My 14-year-old has Spina Bifida so she has enough to deal with and then has the added stress of Paul Calvert banging his window or rattling his letterbox when she walks to and from school. I fear for my family when I leave home but I have to go to work.”

Mr Calvert pleased guilty to breaking the ASBO and this was taken into consideration.

Southerns Solicitors, in his defence, said he had worked hard for 30 years and had taken early retirement and had never been in trouble until the last two years.

“He now fully accepts he has a problem and went to his doctor for depression. He admitted earlier efforts were half-hearted but now, since the incident in August, he has gone to Inspire and is seven weeks into a 12 week course, looking at the deeper reasons of why he drinks.

“These last four-and-a-half months are the longest time Mr Calvert has gone without being in and out of the courts in recent years. He also attends Alcholics Anonymous every Monday night and is addressing his issues 110% and recognises if he does not drink then he is not violent.”

The magistate gave him 16 weeks in custody, suspended for two years, an 18 month supervision order and six months alcohol treatment requirement as well as £85 costs.

Mr Calvert is also under threat from losing his house from the council as, although it is privately owned, his ASBO could be extended to involve the area including his house.

Summing up the magistrate said: “This is your last chance. You have caused your neighbours fear and distress and seriously blighted their lives.

“However you had a 30 year unblemished life and it’s only in the last few years that you have been in and out of court.

“Your wife is supporting you and we feel you will have better chance of rehabilitation out of prison.

“The report says you drank two bottles of whiskey a day and, at AA, you learnt 73 out of 100 people who attend AA died on the programme. You know that’s where you will end up if you carry on drinking.

“If you breach this again, you will be in the police cells and there will be no escaping a custodial sentence.”