A Nottinghamshire councillor has been convicted of harassing his two ex-neighbours after they clashed in lockdown.
Councillor Tom Hollis, deputy leader of Ashfield District Council, is said to have held meetings with other councillors in a hot tub in his back garden during the pandemic.
Leaving court today, the councillor vowed to appeal the harassment convictions.
He is said to have played music at the council get-togethers, allegedly held from morning into the evening with varying numbers of people when Britain was in its first national lockdown in May 2020.
Nottingham Magistrates Court heard the claim originated from neighbour Shannon Jones-Golding. She called 101 for advice from police on Covid measures and asked ‘if this was allowed’.
Mr Hollis, 28, always maintained he was a key worker and that the police had told Mrs Jones-Golding he was doing nothing wrong.
Judge Leo Pyle told Mr Hollis, who sat calmly in court as the verdicts were delivered, that he considered his claim ‘ludicrous and frustrating’.
Councillor Tom Hollis, deputy leader of Ashfield District Council, was convicted of harassing two of his neighbours, including pretending one had chased him with a knife
The independent councillor is said to have held meetings in his hot tub during the pandemic, leading neighbour Shannon Jones-Golding to alert the police
The judge found Mr Hollis harassed neighbours as tempers flared in a serious of spats over their six-foot high fence during lockdown.
On one occasion, officers raced to Windmill Close, Sutton-in-Ashfield, where Hollis lived next door to Mrs Golding and her husband, following reports a ‘neighbour came at him (Hollis) with a knife’.
They found the councillor calm and composed. Police then viewed video footage taken by the neighbour – footage of Mr Hollis arguing over the fence and events at the front of his property which showed him on the phone to police.
In that call he described a one to one-and-a-half foot knife. Police did not see any knife at the house but there was also no detailed search for one.
Mr Hollis almost had Mrs Jones-Golding’s husband arrested for the alleged possession and threats with a bladed article.
The footage taken by Mrs Jones-Golding proved otherwise.
Mark Fielding, prosecuting, accused Mr Hollis of phoning 999 and that he ‘play-acted’ as if he was being chased by the male victim with a knife.
Hollis, who pleaded not guilty, was said to have run into his house squealing, almost crying, and shouting he was ‘being followed’ and ‘don’t come at me with that’.
Mr Hollis denied having meetings in his hot tub and said he would appeal the convictions
Whilst in the safety of his home, he carried on with the 999 call and made it clear the male victim chased him with a knife. Police arrived and officers went to arrest Mr Golding for possessing and threatening with a blade.
But Mrs Jones-Golding showed officers the film she had taken and police realised this was a ‘false complaint’, said Mr Fielding at the start of the trial.
The judge concluded the charge involving Mrs Jones-Golding involved numerous episodes in this ‘sad case’.
The court heard Mr Hollis also told her: ‘I know it was you who made that anonymous call to the police. I heard your voice. I have contacts in the police.’
He added he ‘made the rules’, saying she would be ‘done for harassment of a key worker.’
The defendant’s conduct amounted to harassment of her – citing the dragging of a caravan onto the driveway, the arrival of police to the 999 call over the ‘knife incident’.
The judge said: ‘This was conduct on at least two occasions which amounted to harassment of this lady.
‘It clearly caused her alarm and distress. It was oppressive and overbearing.’
Mr Golding, 31, was called a ‘paedophile’ by Hollis before he made the false 999 call. The harassment of the couple led the Goldings, who have two children, to sell their house and move away.
Judge Pyle said: ‘This young man [Mr Golding] was fortunately not arrested for an accusation of threatening with a knife. It was yet another episode of ongoing behaviour which caused alarm and distress. This charge is proved to the criminal standard.’
Mr Hollis said he would appeal two harassment convictions when he briefly spoke with Nottinghamshire Live following the convictions.
He has been bailed to return to court for sentencing on October 13 at 10am. Hollis stressed that he never held council meetings in his hot tub in his back garden.