A foul-mouthed Tahora farmer waged a successful campaign against a neighbouring family to force them off their land, a Taranaki judge said when sentencing him yesterday.
In the New Plymouth District Court a jury found Peter John Kennedy, 52, guilty of threatening grievous bodily harm to Elizabeth Shewan in December 2012.
However, after four hours deliberation the jury found Kennedy not guilty of assaulting Ms Shewan's partner, Wayne McIvor, during an argument over a fence.
During the two-day trial in the neighbours-at-war saga, the jury heard that Ms Shewan and Mr McIvor bought a two-hectare property from Kennedy near the Tangarakau Gorge on the Forgotten World Highway for $50,000.
Their dream was to turn the wool shed into a home and develop the property as a lifestyle block.
They worked hard to develop it into a self-sustainable unit where they could provide accommodation for tourists, hunt goats and possums, build a crystal shop, and plant an orchard and garden.
But Kennedy took exception to the couple, accused them of rustling his goats, lying to him about a wild pig on their property and failing to erect a promised boundary fence.
He aimed streams of abuse at Ms Shewan, threatening to slit her throat, and made masturbation gestures at her. Much of the abuse was witnessed by Mr McIvor's three children.
The family was so intimidated they packed up for good, leaving most of their belongings.
Judge Allan Roberts said it was clear to him that Kennedy waged a significant battle with the family.
"Your mouth is filthy, like an open sewer," the judge said.
"For you to talk to a woman like that was nothing short of disgraceful.
"This was a campaign you waged deliberately engaging with them to make their stay as unpleasant as possible. You succeeded."
The judge sentenced Kennedy, who had no recent convictions, to 180 hours of community work.
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