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Teacher guilty of harassing German with wartime tunes

A British teacher has been convicted of harassing his German neighbours by playing wartime classics and giving Nazi salutes.

Reinhard and Kathryn Wendt, both 62, said neighbour Geoffrey Butler, 54, made their lives a misery over four years.

Butler was found guilty of racially aggravated harassment and sentenced to a three-year conditional discharge at the request of his neighbours.

He was also given a restraining order banning him from playing loud music, using threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour towards the couple, pointing photographic equipment at them or their property, or making any suggestive comments about the German race.

Butler, of Lower Upnor, near Rochester, Kent, loudly played wartime songs including The White Cliffs Of Dover by Vera Lynn, the Dambusters theme tune and Rule Britannia, as well as a Churchill speech, Medway Magistrates’ Court heard.

He also whistled patriotic tunes, stared at his neighbours and made unfounded complaints about them.

As Butler was sentenced, he shouted that the trial had been a farce and he would be appealing against the conviction.

“We found Mr and Mrs Wendt to be compelling, credible and consistent witnesses,” said magistrate Colin Smith. “Their assertion that loud war-related music was being played was corroborated.

“We found Mr Butler’s evidence to be evasive and contradictory.”

The relationship between Butler and the Wendts turned sour shortly after they moved next door to the maths teacher in early 2007.

Following a row over solicitors’ costs from a failed deal over the transfer of a 6ft piece of land, the neighbours fell out.

The situation came to a head on Jul 30, 2007, when Butler was arrested after he and Mr Wendt came to blows.

Butler was released without charge but the harassment continued.

Butler said he never played music from his house, and that he could not whistle.

Outside the court Mr and Mrs Wendt said they felt justice had been done but they were too frightened to go on living near Butler and would move.

“It has been quiet over the last month and that has been a pleasure,” said Mr Wendt.


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