A Red Deer man described as a “terror” to his neighbourhood, and who has tied up enforcement resources and multiple City of Red Deer departments, has been convicted of bullying.
In a case that the Crown prosecutor admitted was very unique, Robert Charlton, a senior citizen who lives at 3 Scott St. in Sunnybrook, appeared alone in court this week to defend himself during a trial.
A group of about 20 other people who live in the neighbourhood also attended, hoping for a conviction and filling up most of one-half of the small courtroom.
Charlton, a tall man who uses a large wooden cane to walk, was charged under the bullying section of the city’s Community Standards Bylaw on Nov. 23, 2015. On Monday he was fined $500 by justice of the peace Stafford Gorsalitz.
The case was held in Red Deer traffic court, which deals with numerous laws, including City of Red Deer bylaws.
The actual conviction was based on him “yelling and screaming” at two children riding bicycles in front of his house, but neighbours outlined many other concerns.
They accused him of tying up valuable enforcement agencies with his litany of complaints to the RCMP and City of Red Deer departments including bylaws, inspections and licensing, animal control, revenue and assessment, engineering, parks and environmental services.
One neighbour, Tad Ames, who lives at 5 Scott St., directly east of Charlton’s house, testified that between June and October 2015, he documented 23 visits he had from enforcement agencies. He never received a single ticket.
Keith Carriere, who lives at 9 Scott St., said he had problems with Charlton since he moved in 12 years ago. He called Charlton a“terror to our neighbourhood” and neighbours were tired of the non-stop abuse and bullying.
Carriere, said Charlton uses RCMP and city peace officers to bully the neighbourhood. “There are so many false allegations … it’s a tactic to create a hardship on our street.”
He said he was on his motorcycle one day and Charlton suddenly came out behind a parked car “and took a swipe at me.”
“I’ve seen him yelling at mothers and school children,” Carriere said.
Charlton, who has a carport, has placed a hand-made No Parking sign in front of his house yet he parks his own vehicle in front of his home, Carriere said.
One time Charlton dropped cat feces on Carriere’s front steps. Charlton would tell court he was upset with cats using his flower beds.
Brandi-Lee Kulych-Webber, who lives at 5 Scott St. with Ames and their blended family of five children, said bylaw officers had been at her house so often it was getting to be a weekly or biweekly event.
They moved into the neighbourhood about a year ago and had been doing renovations to the home. Charlton complained about constant construction noise.
Kulych-Webber said her children “were very afraid of Mr. Charlton” and he had taken photos of the children and her, and of things such as vehicles on the street.
She said he had once entered her house without being invited. “I just want this to stop.”
Ames said when he moved into the neighbourhood, people forewarned him of Charlton. So he made a point of going over to meet the senior, and gave him his cell phone number to call anytime he had a concern.
Ames said when he was building a fence, Charlton called the city to complain it was too high. It was still under construction and the posts had not yet been topped off.
He said he asked Charlton why he would call a third party instead of him directly when he had a concern. “He refused to answer.”
City of Red Deer Peace Officer Danielle Everson testified that she attended a parking complaint on Nov. 23 from Charlton about a vehicle blocking his driveway. “There was no vehicle blocking the driveway.”
“He was using us as a medium to harass his neighbours.” She then gave him the bullying ticket.
Everson said peace officers had attended 14 complaints over two years, three of them recently, from Charlton.
“I’ve never seen people tell so many lies in my life,” Charlton testified.
He said he has lived in his house for 46 years and the street has gone downhill with new people moving in.
“I haven’t been bullying,” he said, and the two children were riding their bikes on his lawn between driveways. “I don’t tell lies.”
When Charlton showed some photos he had taken of vehicles on his street to the court, Crown prosecutor Jason Buttuls asked him if any showed his driveway being blocked. “Not directly, no,” Charlton said.
Buttuls said he had 21 separate statements from people in the neighbourhood about Charlton, and the Nov. 23 false report “is the one that put it over the top.”
“Is not the city part and parcel part of the problem?” justice of peace Gorsalitz said at one point.
“It’s clear there’s an issue between you and probably everyone in the neighbourhood,” he told Charlton, adding the numbers suggested he was the problem.
Gorsalitz said that given the allegations, Charlton could have been facing criminal charges including stunting, vandalism and trespassing.
He said that it was Charlton’s yelling at the children on their bikes that resulted in the bullying conviction.
When Charlton said maybe his problems would go away if he moved, Gorsalitz told him: “Your other option is you can try and get along with your neighbours.”