A JUDGE told George Reynolds he should be "thoroughly ashamed" of his behaviour after he was convicted of harassing a councillor.

The 83-year-old stood trial at Teesside Magistrates’ Court in Middlesbrough for one charge of harassment without violence towards Durham County Councillor Heather Smith.

The charge related to Reynolds visiting the councillor’s home in Hamsterley and shouting at her before sending her letters.

Cllr Smith had previously objected to a planning application submitted by the defendant to build holiday pods in Toft Hill, near Bishop Auckland.

Giving evidence at the trial, Cllr Smith said she felt “threatened and intimidated” after Reynolds turned up at her house.

The court heard that a few days prior to his visit, Cllr Smith had driven past the site of the planning application and stopped to take a photograph after noticing works were underway. She said she was unsure whether planning permission had been granted at that stage.

She told the court that in June last year a car pulled up outside of her home in which Reynolds was a passenger. The driver got out of the vehicle and began taking pictures of her car before telling her Mr Reynolds wanted to speak to her.

She said: “When his associate got out of the car I said ‘I do not wish to speak to Mr Reynolds’, then I heard shouting through the open driver’s door.

“I was trying to put my bee keeping equipment in the car and I said I had done nothing wrong. By this stage he [Reynolds] had got out of the car and had taken a step in my direction.”

The court heard that Reynolds was subsequently visited by the police and told not to contact Cllr Smith.

He went on to send her two letters which Cllr Smith described as “extremely nasty”, which led to him being arrested and charged with harassment.

Reynolds disputed the charges throughout the trial and said it was “physically impossible” for him to get out of the car.

When asked in court if he intended to harass Cllr Smith he said “not really” adding that he was “full of hell” when he wrote the letters because he had suffered “five months of aggro” from her.

The former Darlington Football Club chairman said he found the councillor’s address online after reading her objection to his planning application on Durham County Council’s website.

When asked why he went to the councillor’s home he said: “I was trying to find out what it was all about. Why there was this witch hunt for me and why she was harassing me. It was tit for tat.”

Reynolds, of Monument Court, Neville’s Cross, Durham, was fined £600 and ordered to pay £620 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

He was also handed a restraining order by District Judge Tim Capstick.

He said: “It’s a sad day when an 83-year-old man is convicted of an offence like this.

“Cllr Smith should be commended for the valuable work she does within the community, she was doing what she was meant to do as a county councillor.

“You should be thoroughly ashamed of your behaviour towards this lady.”