The remarkable battle of a frustrated tenant prosecuted for pestering city councillors has ended in victory – and a taxpayers’ bill of thousands of pounds.
A court this week ruled 44-year-old Derrick Reid was perfectly within his democratic rights to contact councillors because they were elected to serve on his behalf.
His absolute discharge on a charge of harassment marks the end of a three year saga involving two police prosecutions, solicitors, barristers, council officers and even psychologists.
And it all started over a couple of door closing magnets that cost around £10 each.
Derrick complained to the council that the communal entrance of his Conniburrrow block of flats was insecure.
“Undesirable people were getting into the lobby. They could push the doors open because the magnets on the secure entry system were not working,” he said.
“I got no joy out of the council so I started emailing councillors. I did contact them lots of times but that’s because I didn’t think they were listening to me.”
Derrick signed his emails as The Angry Blackman and his signature picture was Samuel L Jackson holding a gun.
He first appeared before magistrates last year charge with harassment of councillors. He was given a suspended sentence, later quashed on appeal, and a restraining order. This year he was arrested again after the council discovered he had broken the restraining order by sending an email to Bradwell Labour councillor Pauline Wallis.
On the advice of legal experts, psychologists were recruited to prepare reports. They deduced unemployed Derrick was unfit to stand full trial. On Tuesday a district judge conducted a trial of issue and gave him an absolute discharge.
Derrick’s barrister Graeme Molloy said councillors were elected to serve the public and no member of the public should be banned from contacting them.
The judge accepted this and said Derrick was free to email councillors but could not contact members of staff at the council offices.
Meanwhile the door magnets on the block of flats have still not been repaired.
Said Derrick: “All this hassle and all this money could have been saved by a couple of new £10 magnets. Obviously I’m glad the court nightmare is over - but I still want my home to be secure.”