|NOT GUILTY: Lee Slater|
Lee Jon Slater, 46, of Heathcote Close claimed the calls were an innocent prank, explaining: “We're all a group of friends and all make funny phone calls to each other.
“It may sound silly, but that's the way it is. I'm sorry he is upset, but there was nothing malicious.”
He was cleared of sending a communication of an indecent or offensive nature between July 18 and August 2, last year to estate agent Stephen Giddings, 57, of Ancaster Crescent, New Malden.
Slater always admitted making the heavy-breathing phone calls in which he would repeatedly say: “F*** me,” in an exaggerated sexualised tone.
Mr. Giddings did not find the calls humerous and told Wimbledon Magistrates Court on Wednesday: “I thought it was weird and had no idea where they came from or why.
“I started to get concerned because I was receiving these calls when I was at home and felt it was possible I was being watched.
“I was getting a bit paranoid that there was a neighbour or somebody watching me. You're kind of looking over your shoulder a little bit.
“It made me feel like I was being targeted, a bit vulnerable. It was unpleasant.
“I'm an openly gay man since the seventies and when I first got the calls I felt that's why I was being targeted.”
He told the court he did not realise it was Slater, who he had blocked as a facebook friend, on the other end of the line.
“He is a practical joker and has an off the wall sense of humour, but I don't think his sense of humour is anything like these calls at all.”
Police traced the calls to Slater, who claimed he was “tipsy” when he made them.
He told the court: “It upsets me that I have been brought to court. It was a joke, a silly joke and I regret it.”
The magistrates heard a character witness state Slater was known for joke calls and they agreed there was no malicious intent by the defendant.