September 6th, 2016

Councillor cleared of assaulting pensioner over long-running planning row

Councillor cleared of assaulting pensioner over long-running planning row Councillor cleared of assaulting pensioner over long-running planning row
Image courtesy SDC.
Updated: 8:55 am, Nov 13, 2015

A COUNCILLOR embroiled in a long-running planning row with his neighbours has been cleared of assaulting a pensioner.

Robert Vaudry was charged with assaulting 71-year-old Paul Turner during a heated exchange on Dorsington village green

in which the Stratford district councillor swore repeatedly at the pensioner and pushed him in the chest.

The dad-of-three has been seeking to transform part of his historic £5million home into a wedding venue for more than two years.

But the plans, which were twice refused permission and unsuccessfully appealed, have angered some villagers – including Mr Turner.

Mr Turner told magistrates in Leamington he had been putting a padlock on the broken parish council noticeboard in March when Mr Vaudry approached him demanding whether he had permission – which he did from the parish council.

Mr Turner returned with fellow resident Nicola Clarkson to put up notices relating to the wedding venue plans as instructed by parish council chair Gail Williams.

But Mr Vaudry came back and began acting “aggressively” once more, the court heard.

The argument escalated with Mr Turner claiming Mr Vaudry ‘lunged’ towards Miss Clarkson and, as he stepped between the pair, he was pushed in the chest by the 51-year-old, who then raised his arm as if to punch him.

Giving evidence, Miss Clarkson said she thought Mr Turner had been pushed, but Peter Gotch, defending, argued it was part of a ‘personal attack’ on Mr Vaudry – adding Miss Clarkson’s original police statement said she had not seen the incident clearly.

The court was then played an audio recording – made on Miss Clarkson’s mobile phone after the alleged push – in which Mr Vaudry launched a foul-mouthed tirade against the pair including calling Mr Turner a paedophile after cameras had been put up to keep watch on the noticeboard.

The Conservative councillor, who represents the Bishopton ward, said he regretted using such language but felt he had been antagonised by them.

When questioned, Mr Vaudry maintained he was going to remove a poster from the noticeboard when Mr Turner came towards him holding a screwdriver and punched him.

He admitted pushing Mr Turner but said it was in self-defence – an argument accepted by presiding magistrate, Elisabeth van Asch.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Vaudry said: “For over two years my family and I have been the target of a campaign of bullying and harassment by a handful of Dorsington residents.

“This is the latest example and has been rightly thrown out – I am delighted justice has been done.”

The outcome of an appeal preventing any more wedding events within the precincts of Mr Vaudry’s home is currently pending.

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