Judge crit­i­cises coun­cil af­ter two jailed for life over killing

Neigh­bour dis­pute es­ca­lated af­ter of­fi­cials failed to act on com­plaints

The Herald - - NEWS - GRANT MCCABE NEWS RE­PORTER

A JUDGE has crit­i­cised a coun­cil for fail­ing to pro­tect two pen­sion­ers dur­ing a neigh­bour dis­pute that es­ca­lated into mur­der.

For­mer pub land­lord Harry Hood and Ross Rus­sell have been jailed for life with a min­i­mum of 14 years each af­ter they car­ried out a sav­age at­tack on Arthur Green at his home in Prest­wick, Ayr­shire, in Novem­ber 2014.

Mr Green, 60, lived close to Hood’s par­ents and the cou­ple had en­dured years of has­sle at the hands of Mr Green and his fam­ily.

Hood flew into a rage when it emerged the el­derly cou­ple’s win­dow had been smashed by one of Mr Green’s ac­quain­tances, then went with Rus­sell to Mr Green’s home and beat him to death in Novem­ber 2014.

Hood’s 76-year-old fa­ther, also named Harry, told how Mr Green had been a “night­mare” to live be­side, with “24/7” noise and that a dog barked at “all hours”.

He told the court: “I blame him (Green) be­cause he was invit­ing the peo­ple there. He was just a neigh­bour from hell.”

The pen­sioner ended up keep­ing a log of their prob­lems, with po­lice and the coun­cil later be­ing called in.

In a rare move the judge slated the lo­cal coun­cil – South Ayr­shire – for fail­ing to act and en­cour­ag­ing the pen­sion­ers to move.

Jail­ing Hood and Rus­sell yes­ter­day, judge Bill Dun­lop, QC, said: “The re­ac­tion of the coun­cil which I heard was dis­turb­ing.

“That they should make them­selves home­less and move to an area away from the place they loved liv­ing in and to leave their home was frankly dis­ap­point­ing, wholly in­ad­e­quate and on one view, cruel.

“That fail­ure to act on the part of the coun­cil was explained to the court as due to there be­ing no cor­rob­o­ra­tion.

“As a lawyer I can say that’s non­sense.

“I am driven to con­clude the coun­cil went for the easy op­tion – per­suad­ing the good guys to move would be sim­ple and more straight­for­ward than evict­ing those caus­ing the trou­ble.”

Mr Green’s young grand­son dis­cov­ered his body the next day.

Hood, 46, and Rus­sell, 35, boasted they had “got away with mur­der” af­ter po­lice ini­tially be­lieved Mr Green had fallen but they were later ar­rested.

In his ev­i­dence, Mr Hood se­nior said that he kept a log of the prob­lems they en­dured at the hands of Mr Green be­fore the coun­cil were called in.

Mr Hood and his wife were tar­geted again days be­fore the killing when their win­dow was put in.

He re­called a run-in he had with the boyfriend of Mr Green’s daugh­ter.

He said the man threat­ened his wife be­fore a slab was thrown through a win­dow where he had been sit­ting ear­lier.

David Burns, South Ayr­shire Coun­cil’s head of hous­ing and fa­cil­i­ties, said: “We were deal­ing with this case and pro­gress­ing the mat­ter through the dif­fer­ent stages of our anti-so­cial be­hav­iour process.

“We will con­sider whether there is any learn­ing we can take from this case, but no one could have pre­dicted the ac­tions that were taken by the two in­di­vid­u­als.”

ARTHUR GREEN: Was at­tacked and killed in his home.

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