Ian Mitchell, 68, of Crayford Way, Crayford, had denied obtaining £5,000, by making three claims for council tax benefits between 2000 and 2002, when he had undeclared savings.Bang to rights then, eh?
Mr Mitchell has been waging a longstanding battle against Bexley Council, accusing it of failing to do anything about the yobs who have targeted him and his home.The story is horribly familiar.
The court heard how Mr Mitchell was driven to such despair that last year, he set fire to his house.
It was so badly damaged he now lives in a shed in the garden.
Mr Mitchell told the court between 1993 and 2006 he had complained to Bexley 81 times and asked for its help.So he had a plan. Let them take him to court to get some publicity for his plight:
He claimed local yobs had smashed his windows, covered his car in oil and pelted him with beer cans and eggs.
He said he had been abused by motorists who blocked his entrance and even parked on his driveway.
To make things worse, some of them were service vehicles.
On the advice of police, he began photographing them, but this brought even more abuse.
He said local youths would gather outside his home drinking, sitting on his and his neighbours’ walls and even leaning up against his house.
He said he had spent nearly £2,500 on CCTV cameras to film the culprits, but no one had ever come to view the tapes.
He told the court he had claimed the benefits to get back at the council.And for once, it worked!
He said: “They screwed me, so I wanted to screw them.”
Mr Mitchell added he had even told the council what he was doing, “so I could have my day in court”.
A jury at Isleworth Crown Court, Middlesex, took just 20 minutes to acquit him.No wonder they were so keen to do away with jury trials. It's the only time the ordinary people get to stand up and say 'No. We're not standing for this'.