Oldest Asbo man used to sell ice cream

FROM Mr Softee to Mr Angry . . . that's 80-year-old nuisance neighbour Arthur Burgess who today is the oldest person in Suffolk to have ever been given an Asbo.

FROM Mr Softee to Mr Angry . . . that's 80-year-old nuisance neighbour Arthur Burgess who today is the oldest person in Suffolk to have ever been given an Asbo.

As the war veteran begins a jail sentence, villagers spoke about the “very odd” man whose hatred of authority began after an incident with his ice-cream van.

They told of how he turned from being their friendly Mr Softee driver touring the twin Trimleys to sell ice cream to families into a foul-mouthed man obsessed by an overhanging tree and a garden boundary, threatening to kill people.

Trimley St Martin Parish Council vice chairman John Barker - who suffered a volley of abuse and was called a Nazi by Burgess in the street - said: “I hope this court hearing has brought these matters to a conclusion and that Mr Burgess will abide by the terms of the Asbo (anti-social behaviour order) with respect to my family and myself.

“I don't think his totally unacceptable behaviour can be excused by his age.”

Suffolk Coastal council landscape officer Anne Westover, who was threatened by the pensioner in a series of nuisance phone calls, said: “In many respects I don't think he is a nasty person, I just think he gets himself completely wound up and doesn't know what he's saying.”

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Around 20 years ago when widower Burgess, of Cavendish Road, Trimley St Martin, was an ice-cream van driver he had a run in with police after being prevented from selling ices at Trimley Carnival.

He failed to get a pitch on the events field and so parked up on a grass verge - and was then moved on after a row with officers.

“It seems his hatred of police and authority started from that incident - it just sparked something,” said one villager.

Another near neighbour said: “I feel so sorry for the man living next door to him.”

Neighbour Wilfred Youngs, who lived next door to Burgess, said in a written statement: “I feel constantly apprehensive at all times and I worry about the unpredictability of his behaviour.''

He said he had become depressed and he had not slept well while Burgess was in prison on remand and he was worried what would happen when Burgess returned home.

Burgess was yesterday given a 13-week jail sentence but will be out in three-and-a-half weeks. He will only serve half the sentence and has already spent three weeks on remand in prison.

He is placed under an anti-social behaviour order until further notice and not allowed to contact neighbour Wilfred Youngs, enter his house or damage the adjoining garden fence, and not allowed to contact parish council vice chairman Mr Barker or council officer Ms Westover.

Magistrates were told that during a long-running dispute about a fence and a tree, Burgess had become so irate he threatened to kill Mr Youngs and told him he believed in “suicide bombing”.

He made 168 telephone calls Suffolk Coastal council staff in two days with the majority lasting less than a tenth of a second.

Burgess threatened landscape officer Ms Westover, and told Ian Abery, an anti-social behaviour co-ordinator, he wanted to kill him and “his time was up”.

Speaking today, Ms Westover said she hopes Mr Burgess can now get the help he needs.

“In many respects I don't think he is a nasty person, I just think he gets himself completely wound up and doesn't know what he's saying,” she said.

“The times he was calling me a lot and sometimes threatening to come round my house were not pleasant.

“The prison sentence is an opportunity to watch what is going on in his mind. I don't know whether he will get help but I hope he does.”

Neil Inniss, mitigating, claimed the authorities had “ganged up” on the pensioner and he had only been trying to protect his rights in a boundary dispute.

“His bark is worse than his bite. It seems to me that he is being painted and tainted with the same brush by a number of agencies as being a certain type of person. It has got out of hand,” he said.

However, magistrates' chairman Peter Page said the offences were so serious Burgess had to go to jail.

Burgess, who was for many years an engineering worker for Ransomes Sims and Jefferies and served as a rifleman with the 8th Army in Italy, had shown a lack of co-operation, had been guilty of persistent offences and shown a lack of remorse.

He had been convicted at three earlier trials of two charges each of harassment, obstructing a police officer and making annoying phone calls. He was also found guilty of causing damage, assaulting a police officer and failing to surrender to custody. Burgess had denied all nine charges.

He had also denied five other charges relating to alleged incidents at a Trimley St Martin Parish Council meeting and these were dropped.

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