London - Fed up with the noise the children next door were making as they splashed in their pool, Stephen Gee decided to take matters into his own hands.
Creeping into the family’s garden in the dead of night, he slashed a hole in the side of the pool, leaving 4 000 litres of water to flood out across their lawn.
Gee denied inflicting the puncture, but when the Little family checked their CCTV it showed the 63-year-old sneaking on to their property while they were away. Gee has now been found guilty of criminal damage and been told not to contact the family for five years.
Jason Little, 46, moved into the house in the Dorset village of Puxey with his wife Avril and their two girls six years ago.
They enjoyed using the pool but their noise incurred the wrath of retired aircraft engineer Gee and his wife. Gee would shout at them over the fence between their £600 000 homes, and played loud music to signal his annoyance, a court heard. Mr Little, an Army major who won the Military Cross for inspirational leadership in battle in Afghanistan in 2008, said: ‘The pool was already there when we moved in and we started using it.
‘Almost immediately they seemed to take offence to the fact we have children and the children make noise.’
Mr Little, his wife and his daughters, then eight and ten, went on holiday in 2016. He checked the 33ft x 13ft elevated pool before they left. It was full of water and there were no leaks. But when they got back, the pool was empty and their garden flooded.
On examination it turned out a hole had been slashed in the side of the pool. A police officer said it looked like the pool cladding had been hit with something heavy such as an axe blade.
The couple examined CCTV they had set up to film their garden – and spotted a hooded Gee tiptoeing up to the poolside at 4.30am.
He had left a note in the Littles’ porch claiming he had woken in the night to the sound of flowing water and found their garden flooded.
But finding him guilty of criminal damage at Poole Magistrates’ Court, district judge Stephen Nicholls said: ‘His account is not credible or believable and I am satisfied he entered the land and caused damage to the pool, causing water to escape.’
Gee was fined £500 and ordered to pay £650 prosecution costs and £250 compensation. Judge Nicholls also issued a restraining order banning him from contacting the Littles for five years. Speaking after the case Mr Little said: ‘He threatened my children and tried to tell them they were not allowed to use their own garden and said many times they were going to force us to leave.’
Gee, who has no previous convictions, yesterday said he is considering appealing, and added: ‘I know everybody always says “it wasn’t me”, but it really wasn’t me. I’ve never been in trouble before and it’s very upsetting to have a criminal record for the first time at the age of 63. All we want is to lead a quiet life.’