South Yorkshire murder victim described as 'reprehensible' by former neighbours who claim his anti-social behaviour forced them to move, jury told
A couple who lived next door to a South Yorkshire man alleged to have been murdered by a mother and son described him as a ‘reprehensible’ man whose anti-social behaviour forced them to move.
48-year-old Gary Dean was found dead on farmland near to his home in Silkstone Common, Barnsley on September 6 last year.
Carol Dawson, 71, and Scott Dawson, 41, are on trial at Sheffield Crown Court, accused of Mr Dean’s murder, and are alleged to have attacked him with an air rifle, rocks and branches..
The defendants are alleged to have been involved in a dispute with Mr Dean concerning a £300,000 piece of land they bought near to his property some years earlier.
Married couple, Elizabeth Toulson and Peter Toulson, who lived next door to Mr Dean for 15 years, gave evidence this afternoon.
Mrs Toulson told the jury of seven men and five women how she went to introduce herself to Mr Dean a couple of days after he moved in, and he swore at her, using a disparaging term for a woman.
“How did that make you feel,” asked John Ryder QC, representing Scott.
She replied: “Upset, and shocked and just in disbelief. I believed it was because of the noise I was making by brushing the patio.”
Mrs Toulson said that following their initial meeting, he would always shout the same offensive term at her whenever they encountered each other after that.
She said she saw Mr Dean appear in his front bedroom window putting his two fingers up, while he was ‘naked from at least the waist up’ and wearing a ‘huge black afro wig,’ on numerous occasions.
Mrs Toulson said this behaviour was also witnessed by her daughter and five-year-old granddaughter who became ‘very distressed’ after seeing Mr Dean acting in such a manner.
She added: “He used to play music and [recordings of] steam trains and he used to sing. When he used to sing Away In A Manger in the screechiest voice…that’s what used to upset me the most.”
Mr Toulson said Mr Dean would leave the recordings of trains playing at top volume even after he had left the house, which he believed was to ‘annoy’ him and his wife.
He recalled one occasion when he went to knock on Mr Dean’s door after he banged on their adjoining wall in response to some noisy DIY work he was carrying out at his home.
Mr Toulson said: “There was no response at first, and then eventually he opened the door and when he saw it was me he just spat at me and slammed the door. I tried to get in [the house] because I was going to do something I would have regretted later but I couldn’t get in because he’d locked the door.”
The couple said they moved out in 2015, after 20 years in the property, because they could not cope with Mr Dean’s behaviour any longer.
“The recurring effects on both myself and my wife just eventually got too much for us, and we discussed it, and said we couldn’t enjoy life down there anymore,” said Mr Toulson.
He added: “I’m 79. I’ve lived a long life, I’ve met different stratas of people, different social classes. But I’ve never met someone as reprehensible or destructive as Gary Dean. He was a night owl, and we would get up in the morning and find he would have broken down the fence, thrown tea bags and banana peels in our back garden. We couldn’t prove it was Gary Dean, but we knew it was him.”
Mrs Toulson said the couple had considered moving to Cleethorpes, and believed Mr Dean must have somehow found out because they received an offensive letter from him which said something along the lines of: “You’re going to Cleethorpes and I hope you drown in the sea there. I will have a massive street party to celebrate you leaving.”
Mr Dean’s wife, Caroline, lived at the property with him, and both Mr and Mrs Toulson said they spoke with her about his behaviour on a number of occasions.
The couple said Caroline was ‘polite’ and would apologise on his behalf, and Mrs Toulson said Caroline told her she believed Mr Dean suffered from Asperger’s, which is a form of autism.
Scott Dawson of Allotts Court, Barnsley, and Carol Dawson of Stonewood Grove, Barnsley deny murdering Mr Dean.
Both defendants have opted not to give evidence, and the case for the defence closed today.
The jury are set to be sent out to consider their verdicts on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.
The trial continues.