Old soldier locked up 
over feud with police neighbours

84 year old Phil Taylor. Pictures: Ross Parry Agency
84 year old Phil Taylor. Pictures: Ross Parry Agency
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WHEN pensioner Phil Taylor took action in the latest chapter of an ongoing dispute with his neighbours, he was not expecting to feel the long arm of the law.

But the 84-year-old former soldier got more than he bargained for after he smashed a boulder which he claimed was placed in front of his car by a neighbour in Whitby.

PC Sara Webb

PC Sara Webb

Mr Taylor was arrested – and spent a night in the cells.

The pensioner said he felt “embarrassed and degraded” after police handcuffed him in the street and drove him to a station 20 miles away in Scarborough.

He claims he was arrested for criminal damage after he used a sledgehammer to smash a sandstone boulder that he said had been deliberately placed there to block his car in his garden.

Mr Taylor said he returned to his car to find it blocked in by around 40 of the rocks which had been placed around the perimeter of his land.

Mr Taylor, who has no driveway, parks his car and his caravan in his back garden and uses a small patch of land belonging to his neighbours as an access route.

But when police officers Sara and Jonathan Webb moved in next door to him in the quiet cul-de-sac Mr Taylor says he was told that he would have to buy the plot if he wanted to continue using it.

Mr Taylor, who suffers from ME and has lived alone since his wife died 22 years ago, claims this sparked a neighbourly dispute which he said had lasted nearly five years.

Last Saturday, in retaliation, he picked up a sledgehammer and started smashing the boulders which were in his way. Police arrived and, after arresting him for criminal damage, locked him overnight in a cell.

Mr Taylor said: “It was a degrading experience spending a night in the cells and I was embarrassed being arrested at my own front gate. I felt sheer fear in the cells. It was intimidating and I was going forwards and backwards between my cell and being interviewed.”

The situation escalated when, he said, his neighbours arrived at his home with a chainsaw and cut down one of his trees.

Mr Taylor said that they left the tree trunk across an entrance to the rear of his property which he uses to access the caravan that he keeps on his land.

In protest, Mr Taylor parked his car on the adjoining patch of grassland which his neighbours own.

He said that following the incident he was driven nearly 20 miles to a police station in Scarborough where he was locked in a cell until the next morning.

Mr Taylor, who has to rest regularly throughout the day to avoid becoming severely unwell, said that during his time in the cell he was unable to get any sleep.

He added: “I had to listen to the man in the cell next door to me screaming all night long. All I have asked for from the police and my neighbours is consideration.”

A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police confirmed that an 84-year-old man from Whitby was arrested at 12.10pm on Saturday, July 19, on suspicion of criminal damage at a house in Whitby.

The spokesman added: “He has now been released on bail to allow for further police enquiries. If the man has any concerns or complaints about the way he was treated, we encourage him to contact North Yorkshire Police so that we can discuss these issues.”

Sara and Jonathan Webb were unavailable for comment.