A company director hired a private detective to dig dirt on a neighbour, a court heard.
Jeremy Hoyle, 43, compiled a dossier on neighbour Chris O’Brien in a row over parking in their quiet cul-de-sac.
Hoyle called in a “favour” from a former policeman friend who found out that Neighbourhood Watch chief Mr O’Brien had previous convictions for theft and attempted theft in the mid-1990s and burglary in 2004.
He and other residents were said to be concerned at rising crime in and around Holmebank Mews, Brockholes.
They met in a local pub to draw up an anonymous letter detailing the convictions which was then posted to neighbours.
The convictions were legally classed as “spent” under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act because they had been committed some time ago.
Hoyle claimed Mr O’Brien had turned the street into a used car lot, selling vans, 4x4s and even old ambulances from outside his home.
In May last year Hoyle pretended to wash his son’s Ford KA with a hosepipe – but soaked the interior of Mr O’Brien’s open-topped Audi A4, causing £1,000 damage.
CCTV cameras at Mr O’Brien’s home also captured footage of Hoyle casually scraping his car key down the side of a Vauxhall Astra belonging to Mr O’Brien’s wife Melissa.
Hoyle denied harassment between April last year and January this year and two charges of criminal damage.
He was convicted after a day-long trial and sentencing was adjourned until next Friday.
Prosecutor Bob Campbell told how Hoyle took offence at Mr O’Brien’s response to his complaint about a van left parked on the street.
He hand delivered a typed letter around the estate accusing Mr O’Brien of a “disgusting and unsavoury” attitude and claimed he had been “threatening, bullying and used underhand tactics.”
Mr Campbell told how Hoyle was washing his son’s car parked in the street next to the Audi.
He said Hoyle “deliberately or recklessly” sprayed water into the car.
The car had to be dried out and the electric roof mechanism was damaged and the sat nav had to be replaced at a cost of £1,000.
Later when CCTV was checked Hoyle was seen scratching the Astra. The scratches were minor and cost £90 to repair.
In November Hoyle sent the “malicious” letter about the previous convictions.
Mr Campbell said: “The defendant seemed obsessed and had lost all sense of proportion and was acting maliciously towards him.”
Giving evidence Hoyle insisted he only splashed Mr O’Brien’s car and he denied scratching the Astra, claiming the CCTV shown to the court proved he didn’t do it.
Under oath he was asked by his solicitor Nigel Jamieson if he had previous convictions, and he said not.
At the end of the case Mr Jamieson called the judge back into court and admitted he had found Hoyle had two previous convictions, one as a juvenile, for shoplifting and criminal damage.
Hoyle claimed he thought the convictions were “spent” and had been wiped from his record.
The judge pointed out that Hoyle had not been honest on oath, and had exposed convictions of Mr O’Brien that were also “spent.”
The judge dismissed Hoyle’s evidence and said it was clear he caused the damage.
He added that Hoyle had set out to smear Mr O’Brien’s character and added: “Mr O’Brien is entitled to leave his past behind him but Mr Hoyle has decided to rake it up and in that respect has probably succeeded in what he wanted to do.”
Hoyle is likely to be given community service though the judge warned him he could face jail if he didn’t co-operate with a pre-sentence report.