'Unpredictable' nightmare neighbour from Sunderland granted freedom as long as he stays out of trouble

A ‘frightening nuisance’ caused fear to his neighbours through arson, fire threats and noise.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 10:14 am

Gary Welsh sparked an outdoor blaze that ignited his garden fence and caused damage to the conservatory next door.

The "unpredictable" 42-year-old then threatened to "smoke out" another neighbour and used a golf club to smash his CCTV camera.

While on bail, Welsh used a spade to smash the windows at his own rented home.

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The case heard at Newcastle Crown Court.
The case heard at Newcastle Crown Court.

One neighbour said his life has been made "hell" because of Welsh's behaviour.

Welsh, of Rushford, Ryhope, Sunderland, admitted arson, using threatening words and behaviour and two offences of criminal damage.

He has been remanded in custody for the last 30 days but during his sentence hearing at Newcastle Crown Court today Welsh was granted his freedom to see if he can stay out of trouble for the next six months.

Prosecutor Richard Holland told the court it was June last year a neighbour noticed Welsh having a fire in his own garden pit.

He added: "It was about 9pm he noticed the adjoining fence was, at this point, well alight, with flames higher than his conservatory, which was very close to the fence."

The court heard the neighbour used his hose to extinguish the flames but £340 damage was caused to his conservatory.

In a victim statement the neighbour said: "My wife is already nervous about Gary Welsh and struggles to sleep when I'm at work.

"He is unpredictable and that is concerning.

"Gary Welsh has caused so many problems in the street but seems to get away with things time and time again."

On November 10 last year Welsh was repeatedly banging on an elderly neighbour's door and shouting threats of "I will smoke you out, I'm going to get you" and "I've got a score to settle".

The court heard by then the neighbours' homes had been fitted with fire safety devices on the letter boxes due to Welsh's behaviour but the victim still took the threats "seriously".

That victim said: "My life has been hell for months. I don't feel safe in my own home. I am scared for mine and my wife's safety. I just want to live in peace."

Two days later Welsh went back and smashed the victim's CCTV camera with a golf club.

On February 9, Welsh smashed his own kitchen and living room windows with a spade, causing £350 damage.

Jamie Adams, defending, said the 30 days Welsh has spent in custody have been a "true awakening for him".

Mr Adams said Welsh had been taking cannabis and alcohol at the time of the offences and had struggled to cope living alone in the house, which had been his family home.

Mr Adams said Welsh's drug and alcohol use meant he became known as a "misfit" and his neighbours viewed him as a "frightening nuisance" but he now can be helped.

He added: "He did show some remorse and regret for what he has done."

Mr Recorder Mark Giuliani deferred sentence for six months and said Welsh must commit no further offences and co-operate with rehabilitation in the meantime.

The judge issued restraining orders to keep Welsh away from two of his neighbours' homes.

The judge said: "If you keep to those conditions you will not be receiving an immediate custodial sentence."

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