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Jimmy Sinclair guilty of harassing Betteshanger neighbours Elaine and Mark Burrows

A family harassed by their neighbour have described the ordeal as the worst two years of their lives.

Elaine and Mark Burrows and their 17-year-old son Steven suffered death threats and constant verbal abuse from their jobless neighbour Jimmy Sinclair, 60.

They were forced to keep a diary of events and buy dictaphones to record the regular early hour abuse through the brick walls of their 1930's semi detached house in Circular Road, Betteshanger.

Mrs Burrows, 40, says 'the vendetta' began in December 2016 after she stopped answering the daily knocks on the door from Sinclair who had recently moved in with his partner Gary Norris, 63.

The sleepless nights that followed put a strain on the couple's marriage, prompting Mrs Burrows to take anti-depressants for the first time in her life.

She also developed psoriasis on her hands and arms which her doctor told her was almost certainly stress related.

This week, Sinclair was found guilty of the offence and issued a five-year restraining order, prohibiting him from both direct and indirect communication with the family.

Mr Norris was found not guilty but was given the same restraining order.

It comes as a huge relief to the pair who contemplated a divorce and also turned to God because of the torment.

Mrs Burrows said: "It's been the worst two years of our lives.

"Nobody should have to live like that. It's been so tough.

Mark and Elaine Burrows Elaine suffered two years verbal abuse
Mark and Elaine Burrows Elaine suffered two years verbal abuse

"Good people get destroyed by things like this. If we hadn't have had the support I really think it would have ended us.

"It was continual, shouting through the wall, especially when they've been out drinking on Friday and Saturday nights, or it would be over the garden fence.

"My son was 15 when it all started and they'd direct it through his bedroom wall.

"They'd blare the TV. One time he [Sinclair] said we were 'dead, dead, dead'. He was hysterical.

"For a long time it felt like the police didn't want to know but when I was on the phone crying, they started treating it as harassment.

"But we've had to fight it the whole way."

Mrs Burrows and her self employed painted and decorator husband were subjected to offensive language and death threats.

They wrote to the MP Charlie Elphicke for help and also installed sound proofing boards in the walls and floor of both their living room and son's bedroom to try and drown out the noise.

"My son was 15 when it all started and they'd direct it through his bedroom wall" - Elaine Burrows

When it didn't help, they invited an estate agent to value the house which is the only home their son has ever known.

Mrs Burrows said: "I was going to leave my husband because I just wanted to escape.

"I couldn't see a light at the end of the tunnel.

"We've never retaliated. We've been too scared to.

"We know that whatever we could do, it could come back 10-fold.

"And what sort of an example would that set my son? I don't want to lower myself to that."

Some short relief came for a period of six months when the men breached bail conditions prompting a judge to evict them for their home.

It came at the right time as their son was sitting his GCSEs at Goodwin Academy.

Jimmy Sinclair
Jimmy Sinclair

Mrs Burrows said: "I was so blessed. Someone was looking down on us then.

"Without a doubt, it would have affected his education.

"I've never prayed so much in my entire life."

Mrs Burrows explained how turning to God has helped them through the situation.

It was in response to Jehovah Witnesses calling at the house.

She said: "I just cried on the doorstep. They saw me at my absolute worst.

"Mark has never been into it but we were that low, for the first time in his life, he said he'd see what it was all about.

"They've been such a good support."

Even now Mrs Burrows says she doesn't feel comfortable leaving the house.

She said: "It's a relief but it is just a piece of paper, not a bodyguard."

She feels she must carry her dictaphone with her as well as a red criminal identifier spray.

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