Bonfire-lighting neighbour from hell threw plastic chunks on fires to choke neighbours

  • Gordon Clarke, 52, appeared on TV's Neighbours From Hell in 1995
  • Court hears of a string of anti-social behaviour which has lasted for 20 years

A man who lit huge bonfires in his garden onto which he threw chunks of plastic to deliberately annoy his neighbours has been found guilty of harrassment.

Serial pest Gordon Clarke - who appeared on TV show Neighbours From Hell in 1995 - repeatedly lit fires in his back garden in Crawley, West Sussex, to send toxic smoke all over the neighbourhood.

The 52-year-old - who was jailed in 1998 for harassment, in 2001 for breaking a restraining order and again in 2008 - has caused misery to his neighbours John Ferraira, Lara Sanger and Graham Sanger for the last 20 years, Horsham Magistrates Court heard.

Neighbour from hell: Gordon Clarke, 52, threw chunks of plastic on to bonfires to send toxic smoke into his neighbours' gardens

Neighbour from hell: Gordon Clarke, 52, threw chunks of plastic on to bonfires to send toxic smoke into his neighbours' gardens

Clarke has already received Asbos for offences including singing Queen song ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ after hearing a neighbour had a terminal illness.

During the screening of the 1995 documentary about nightmare neighbours Clarke’s wife Jay bragged how she painted her house pink, bought a goat and wanted to buy crowing cockerels ‘just to annoy locals’.

Last week, the court heard how Clarke - who has breached his Asbo preventing him from 'harassing and tormenting' his neighbours at least five times since it was handed out in 2006 - had 'not changed his ways'.

The court heard how he repeatedly lit bonfires - some which burned for as long as seven hours - to send smelly smoke into neighbouring gardens.

During a two day trial, the court heard from neighbour Lara Sanger, who said Clarke’s behaviour left her 'constantly on edge'.

She told the court how on August 29 2010 she was reading a book in her bedroom when stinking smoke started wafting in.

She said: 'I shut my windows because smoke was going everywhere. I should be allowed to have the windows open on a summer’s day.

'It all seemed to be a deliberate act to cause annoyance and be as much of a nuisance as possible.

'And it was not just going into the immediate neighbours’ gardens, it was going round the whole neighbourhood. There was a blanket of smoke across the gardens.'


  • Singing Queen song ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ after hearing a neighbour had a terminal illness
  • Clapping during a funeral procession down his street
  • Shooting air rifles at residents
  • Branding neighbours peadophiles when they ‘even cast a glance at a child’
  • Taking photos of neighbours ‘like paparazzi’
  • Keeping 12 dogs in the back garden - and encouraging them to bark at all hours

She told the Crawley News that Clarke lit another bonfire on August 30 and that he then started ‘shouting’ about building a ‘super smoky’ bonfire the next day.

She told the court: 'He said he was going to light a bonfire and that it was going to be bigger and he was going to make it as smoky as possible.

'He was doing it loud enough so everyone would hear him.'

Neighbour Graham Sanger said at a previous court hearing about living with Clarke as a neighbour for the last 20 years.

He told the court: 'It has ruined the quality of life for myself and many other residents.

'I can’t convey just how much of a detrimental effect this is having.'

At an earlier hearing at Crawley Magistrates Court prosecutor Kelly Murror said: 'The Asbo is currently in place to prevent the defendant from using words or behaviour to residents and neighbours that are abusive, threatening or insulting.

'The defendant is accused of persistently lighting fires which produced smoke that was foul-smelling.

'He did not just use wood to keep the fire burning - he lit these fires over four successive days.

'It drove neighbours to put a hose pipe over the fence.'

Clarke, who was ordered by the council to stop having bonfires in November 2010 and to attend ‘counselling sessions’ to address his behaviour, denied burning plastic, said he only ‘burned wood from trees chopped down in his garden’.

He was, however, found guilty of harassment without violence before the case was adjourned for a pre-sentence report.