A pensioner who has a ‘thing against Ethiopians’ left a judge in a Catch-22 after he breached a restraining order banning him bothering his neighbours.

John Douglas, 72, had been released from custody just a week before – having served six months on remand for a four-day campaign of harassment last September that on one occasion saw him go up to his next-door neighbours’ front door with a pitchfork in his hands.

Oxford Crown Court was told on Monday that the restraining order was imposed on March 8, when Douglas received a conditional discharge. Just a week later, on March 15, the Kidlington man was caught on his neighbour’s camera-enabled doorbell trying to open the letter box at her Maple Avenue home.

READ MORE: Banbury man 'stamped on dad's head'

Julian Lynch, mitigating, referred the judge to a number of psychiatric and probation reports on his client.

He said: “Those reports paint a pretty clear picture of a man who’s now in his 70s who made it through 72 years of his life without previous convictions.

“But [he is now] trapped in a situation that arises at least in part out of his mental health difficulties but which mental health services seem unable or unwilling to treat.

“And, since he’s a man who owns his own home and has on the face of it means, social services won’t help either.

“So, he’s come back before this court for breaching an order put in place quite properly to protect his neighbours, who need protecting. But the powers of this court in reality to prevent something happening again are extremely limited.”

He said Douglas felt more comfortable in prison than he did at home, as he was looked after and prevented from harassing his neighbours.

Mr Lynch suggested a community order may be the ‘least bad’ sentence, as the probation service might be able to help his client.

Douglas was said to have told the authorities he had a ‘thing against Ethiopians’ like his neighbours in Kidlington. He admitted he was likely to continue to offend if he was released back to his own home.

READ MORE: Latest cases from Oxford Magistrates' Court

Judge Ian Pringle QC jailed him for 10 months. Having already done three months on remand, the pensioner is expected to be released within weeks – and the judge urged him to use the time to put his Kidlington home on the market with the help of friends.

He told the defendant: “The reality is you can’t, really, on a long-term basis stay in your own home. You’re going to need to sell that and you’re going to need to leave.”

Douglas, of Maple Avenue, Kidlington, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to breach of a restraining order.

Read more from this author

This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward