A COUNCILLOR has been found guilty of harassing his estranged wife.
Colin Walder, 54, Lib Dem councillor for Dalton, had denied harassing Natalie Walder between April 10 and October 9 last year.
His two-day trial ended yesterday when magistrates found him guilty of the charge. They will not pass sentence until March 29.
Walder will also be sentenced on that date for breaching a conditional discharge given to him for an offence of criminal damage.
Walder's seat on Kirklees Council is safe until the June elections - unless he is jailed for more than three months - which would mean automatic disqualification.
Magistrates said they believed Mrs Walder's account of events, saying Walder's answers during cross-examination were inconsistent and defence witness evidence was "unsound, sketchy, and at times, contradictory".
The magistrates said they believed Walder intended to cause his wife distress, knowing she was a nervous person.
The court heard Walder's marriage broke down after just a year, in 2002 and he left the marital home on March 1 2003.
Walder was formally warned by police on April 10 2003 not to contact his wife, who complained he had frightened her during a phone call.
Despite the warning he saw her on April 14, when he visited her next-door neighbour's house.
The court heard that Walder phoned Mrs Walder on April 16 at 10.30pm, about the dog, a tax bill and an Audi TT car.
Another phone call followed to arrange a time to collect the dog.
Walder claimed his wife rang him on the morning of April 19 to check that he was still coming for the pet at 1pm.
Defence witnesses said they saw him receive a call, but Mrs Walder denied it was she who had rung.
Walder arrived at her home at 1.10pm on April 19 with his son.
He said there was no answer at the door or the house phone, but eventually his wife appeared at the side door and went to fetch a lead and ball for the dog.
She put them outside the front door then let the dog out and went inside.
Prosecution witnesses said she was shaking with fear and she said: "I did not want to be in close proximity to him. I felt physically sick and frightened."
Walder was putting the dog in his son's car when police arrived to arrest him.
He was bailed and rang his wife's house again on April 25.
He claimed he was concerned after getting a call from her daughter but when Mrs Walder's father answered, Walder hung up, saying he presumed she was now safe.
Nothing further happened until May 30, when Walder asked a friend to pass a message to his wife.
Finally, on October 8 Walder rang his wife's mobile phone and asked to speak to his friend Phil Wilson.
Walder claimed he intended to call Mr Wilson, but hit the wrong speed dial button.
The bench also believed Mrs Walder's account of Walder grabbing her neck and forcing her to the floor during an argument in summer 2002.
Mrs Walder's 82-year-old grandmother, who lived with the couple, told the court she heard screams and found Mrs Walder on the landing floor with Walder standing next to her.