Rhyl 'neighbour from hell' is jailed


Staff reporter (Rhyl Journal)

A “neighbour from hell” who caused uproar in his community by placing a sign in his front window claiming he’d been put on trial for rape because he was blind was yesterday (Wednesday) starting a jail term.

Hugh McLaughlin, 66, of Fforddlas, Rhyl,  had been convicted after a trial of two charges of harassing neighbours. He was alleged to have played loud music at night, hammered and drilled into the early hours, shouted abuse at them, exposed himself frequently, set fires in his garden, and made “numerous” false complaints to police and the local council about neighbours. One said she was stuck in a “nightmare.”

Prosecutor Tracey Willingham said McLaughlin’s dog died and he put the body in a wheelie bin but encouraged teenage girls to see it.

He had refused to remove the large sign which read :”Put on trial for rape because I am blind.” But it led to threats from people who saw it - including holidaymakers – shouts of “rapist,” and “scum” was daubed on his home.

He moved in about three years ago and the house is on a busy main road used to reach two primary schools and businesses, Miss Willingham said.

McLaughlin, of large build and said to be registered as blind, was described by a woman as “scary and unpredictable” and a couple asked to be rehoused. The prosecution said he would be naked in his back yard and a family had been unable to use their garden for two summers.

WPC Stephanie Ball said :”The sign caused uproar in the community. He was requested to remove it numerous times by neighbours but refused.” Hardworking neighbours became unwell because of him.

Defence solicitor Elen Parry said McLaughlin was selling the terraced house which he bought for £67,000. He intended to travel around the country, staying in hotels, and wanted to go to Scotland.

District judge Gwyn Jones at Llandudno court jailed the pensioner for 120 days and made a three-year restraining order. He told McLaughlin :”You have become a neighbour from hell. You pursued a course of conduct which had a significant impact.”

Judge Jones added :”The court has a duty to protect society from acts of anti-social behaviour.”

McLaughlin told a previous hearing the sign referred to a case in Birmingham ten years ago when a charge of rape was dropped but he was found guilty of sexual assault.

As he was sentenced he shouted from the dock and claimed :”Left alone, I’m a good neighbour.

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