Ex-cop banned from living in his own home for harassing neighbours


A former police officer has been banned from returning to live in his own home after waging a five-year campaign of harassment against a neighbour.

Stephen Lau, 60, has also been barred from visiting the house or even entering the town of Exmouth in Devon.

He faces spending up to five years in prison if he breaks the terms of the restraining order imposed at Exeter Crown Court after he admitted breaching a previous order prohibiting contact with neighbour Sally Watts.

Lau already had previous convictions for harassing Ms Watts or damaging her property dating back to 2015.

But he flouted that order in June last year when he left his car in her parking space with an abusive sign in the window.

He then trashed his own vehicle in a bizarre bid to frame her before going out and daubing green paint in nearly a dozen different locations around Exmouth and Exeter.

The court heard the vandalism included painting swastikas and abusive graffiti and targeted people or places against whom Lau held a grudge, DevonLive reported.

Lau, who is currently living with his mother in Exeter, also pleaded guilty to 11 counts of criminal damage.

He was made subject to a three-year community order with a mental health treatment requirement as well as the new indefinite restraining order.

Judge Peter Johnson said: ‘It is not just Ms Watts, there are a number of potential triggers and a lot of your offending occurred in Exmouth. There would be a substantial risk if you were allowed to go there.’

Defending, Barry White said Lau suffers with schizoaffective disorder, which was the reason behind him having to give up his job in the police force and saw him admitted to hospital 13 times in 15 years.

He told the court the offences ‘reflect a man who is not bad, but significantly unwell’.

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