Home   Canterbury   News   Article

Neighbour Declan Ahern cleared of harassing man with gay taunts

A war veteran accused of harassing his neighbour by playing YMCA and popping balloons has been cleared by a court.

Declan Ahern clashed with the man when they lived in the same housing association building in Brickfields Lane, Bridge, following a party in December.

The 55-year-old was later arrested and charged with harassment of his neighbour of a “homophobic nature” and using threatening words or behaviour against him.

Declan Ahern with his Jack Russell terrier Reggie
Declan Ahern with his Jack Russell terrier Reggie

But he was cleared after a trial at Margate Magistrates’ Court.

Speaking after the case, Mr Ahern admitted there had been issues between him and his neighbour, which resulted in him moving out of the building.

He says that on December 10 he held a leaving party for neighbours, but did not invite the man living upstairs.

“That’s all it was. A going away party,” Mr Ahern said.

“Quite a few people came round, but later I was told that I had been playing YMCA, popping balloons and making homophobic remarks.

“I didn’t do any of this – that’s why I denied it in court and I certainly don’t have anything against gay people.”

Mr Ahern was a mechanical transport driver for the Royal Air Force in Falklands War and later served in Berlin towards the end of the Cold War.

Declan Ahern was accused of playing YMCA by the Village People
Declan Ahern was accused of playing YMCA by the Village People

He says he suffers from mental health problems and admits he has had problems with alcohol abuse in the past, which have resulted in his own court appearances.

In 2012, he was jailed for 100 days for fighting in a Canterbury park – despite claiming he had been doing an “Irish jig” with a friend.

On another occasion, he burst into the Plough and Harrow pub in Bridge with a spade while wearing three pairs of trousers and shouted: “Where’s the hard man?”

Mr Ahern went on: “Yes, I have had problems in the past, but I’m trying to put that behind me. I’ve been seeking counselling and I’ve got it under control.

“I’m now technically homeless. I’m sofa-surfing. I’m trying to turn my life around.”

Mr Ahern’s former neighbour refused to talk except to say that he blamed police for the failed prosecution.

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More