Tree-row neighbour sent to hospital

A WAR veteran who waged a relentless campaign against his neighbour and council staff in a row over an oak tree overhanging his garden has been detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act.

A WAR veteran who waged a relentless campaign against his neighbour and council staff in a row over an oak tree overhanging his garden has been detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act.

Eighty-four-year-old Arthur Burgess appeared briefly at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday accused of being in breach of an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) but had to be escorted from the dock after disrupting the proceedings by shouting.

After reading reports from two doctors who concluded that Burgess was suffering from a mental illness and would be unable to follow court proceedings Judge John Devaux agreed he was “under a disablility” and that the case should be heard in his absence.

A jury was empanelled and after hearing evidence in the form of statements from two employees of Suffollk Coastal District Council and a police officer they concluded that Burgess had breached his Asbo by telephoning the council more than 60 times in one day.


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After the jury's finding, Judge John Devaux described the case as “very sad” and ordered that Burgess, of Cavendish Road, Trimley St Martin, be detained in hospital for medical treatment under section 37 of the Mental Health Act.

During the hearing the court heard that Burgess was made the subject of an Asbo in 2005 following a long running dispute with his neighbour about an oak tree and one of the conditions of the Asbo was that he shouldn't contact Suffolk Coastal District Council unless it was in writing.

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Despite this, Burgess had made 61 telephone calls to the council on September 7 last year. In a statement read to the court council employee Lynn Jackaman said that during a conversation with Burgess he had threatened to commit suicide and had made “moaning and groaning noises” as if he was trying to hang himself.

She had then heard a high pitched scream before the line went dead.

Burgess' barrister Robin Du Preez who was in court during the proceedings to represent his client's interests said Burgess had started getting into trouble after his wife died in 2005.

The court heard that as a result of Burgess's dispute with his neighbour Wilfred Youngs and Suffolk Coastal District Council he had spent several months in prison since his first appearance in 2005 after being convicted of harassment, obstructing a police officer, making annoying phone calls, criminal damage, assaulting a police officer, failing to surrender to custody and breaching his Asbo.

Burgess is a retired engineering worker who used to work for Ipswich firm Ransomes Sims and Jeffries. He served with the army between 1942 and 1946 and was a rifleman with the 8th Army in Italy.

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