Neighbourhood Watch stalwart made a grave error

Lytham Park Cemetery
Lytham Park Cemetery
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A ‘Millionaire’s Row’ neighbour who turned detective to snoop on a ‘suspicious’ visitor ended up in the dock himself – when he accidentally smashed his car into the innocent driver’s van.

Douglas Cholmondley Travis, 88, is the driving force of his local Neighbourhood Watch near Regent Avenue, Lytham – dubbed locally ‘Millionaire’s Row’.

But when he thought he was on the trail of a suspect in the grounds of a graveyard and crematorium near his home, it was Travis who ended up being arrested, Blackpool Magistrates heard.

Described as “the eyes and ears” of the local police, the retired antiques company director admitted driving without due care and attention in the cemetery in the evening of October 10, last year.

He and an elderly female Neighbourhood Watch colleague had spotted what they thought was a suspicious Ford Transit being driven along the road. Travis, of nearby Kintour Road, followed the vehicle and began to take photographs of the Transit and its number plates.

Blackpool Magistrates heard how the driver of the van was in fact on an innocent visit to a family grave at Lytham Park Cemetery.

Angered at being pictured by Travis, the driver got out of the Transit and stood at the front of Travis’ Toyota.

Prosecutor Nick Turner said: “Travis thought something sinister was afoot when in fact the man was at the graveyard to visit the grave of a loved one.” Robert Castle, defending, said: “This is all terribly sad.

“My client is a keen member of the Neighbourhood Watch – one of the eyes and ears of the police who rely onMr 
Travis. They are respectable people trying to keep their property safe.

“He regarded the Transit as being suspicious and followed it for a few hundred yards into the crematorium park. When the driver confronted him, Mr Travis’s lady passenger panicked.

“He thought his car was in neutral but the automatic gearbox was in drive and it jerked forward.”

Magistrates agreed a charge of assault against Travis could be dropped on the basis he pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention.