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Man angry over church bells noise 'lost it' during Remembrance Sunday service

PUBLISHED: 12:53 19 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:53 19 December 2019

St Martin's Church in Fincham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

St Martin's Church in Fincham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2013

An annoyed neighbour of a village church burst in on a Remembrance Sunday service and launched a foul-mouthed rant, a court heard.

Richard Neil Calvert, who suffers from severe tinnitus, was livid when the Fincham church bells started ringing after a night without sleep.

He "lost it" and went in to the church to protest. When asked to leave by an 80-year-old man, Calvert continued to swear and threatened him.

Calvert, 51, of High Street, Fincham, appeared before magistrates in King's Lynn on Thursday to plead guilty to two public order offences.

Prosecuting, Robyn Khan said: "The congregation was getting into church at 10.30am. There were about 30 people including members of the RAF and children."

Miss Khan described how Calvert came in shouting "profanities".

She added: "The gentleman is 80 years old and and the defendant was so aggressive in his demeanour that he half-expected to be hit. The incident was said to last two to three minutes.

"It has put a lot of people off attending the church in future and for others there is concern every time the door clicks."

Miss Khan said there was an injunction against Calvert regarding gravestones leaning against a wall between the two properties.

Mitigating, solicitor Liam Edwards said his client was "deeply ashamed" by his behaviour. It had not been pre-meditated and Calvert had forgotten it was Remembrance Day. He had become frustrated after not receiving replies to emails about the church.

Mr Edwards said: "The defendant lives next door to the church and there's a history between the church and Mr Calvert going back a year or more. He's been trying to get the church to reduce the noise pollution that comes out of the bells ringing.

"He suffers from a particularly severe form of tinnitus and noises are excruciatingly painful. The night before he had not slept at all and the bells started ringing again on Sunday morning."

Referring to the disturbance, Mr Edwards added: "This was inevitable. This man was a ticking bomb. What happened on that morning really had nothing to do with Remembrance Sunday but clearly it's unfortunate it happened on that day."

Presiding magistrate Louise Gayton told Calvert: "This must have been very distressing for the congregation, especially on that significant day. However, we have heard the mitigating circumstances and we have taken into account your guilty plea."

Calvert was given a 12-month conditional discharge. He was ordered to pay £100 compensation to the elderly gentleman, £85 costs and £21 victim surcharge.

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