The homophobic thug who terrorized Leeds neighbors has been found hiding in a dog kennel by police

At a hearing on the verdict this week, Leeds Crown Court was told how Connor Russell, 29, of Waggon Road, Middleton, has been torturing his neighbors with a 13-month campaign of homophobic abuse and threats of violence.

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Russell was also charged with repeatedly punching and kicking a police officer, stealing 35 televisions from a truck and committing a botched one-man warehouse raid during a year-long rampage.

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Connor Russell was sentenced to 59 months in prison.

The court heard how a couple had moved into an apartment below Russell’s house in May 2018. At the time, Russell regularly threw four-day parties at his apartment, and during one of them he recognized the couple and shouted a homophobic slur.

The court heard that over the course of the following year they often heard Russell yell homophobic and threatening language at them.

In August 2018, the victims were sitting in their garden when Russell leaned out his window and threatened to kill them. Russell also regularly hit his floor and yelled homophobic death threats through her ceiling.

On March 29, 2019, the victims were dropped off at their home by a relative when Russell, standing outside with a friend, yelled more homophobic slurs at them – all in front of her three-year-old nephew, who was in the passenger seat.

The prosecution against Russell, Fen Greatley-Hirsch, said the situation had become so extreme that victims were often forced to stay away from the property and live with friends. One of the victims even lost his job due to the stress of the situation, and the two even had to consider moving due to Russell’s behavior.

One of the victims read a statement to the court saying the terror they were subjected to was tantamount to racial abuse.

Russell was charged with an additional 10 felonies.

On June 19, 2020, police received a 999 call from a home on Raylands Lane, Belle Isle, as Russell, who was believed to be undergoing a mental breakdown at the time, was fighting with a family member.

A police officer attempted to handcuff Russell before she was knocked to the ground. After a fight between Russell and the officers, a chase ensued before Russell landed on the officer with his hands around her neck. He then punched her in the head several times before getting up and kicking her. More police officers came to help, but Russell again managed to escape.

Officers later arrested Russell after searching a nearby yard to find him hiding in a dog kennel.

On April 29, 2020, Russell was spotted by police on Belle Isle Road with between 10 and 15 men. Officers rolled down their window and told Russell, who had a bicycle and was holding a bottle of vodka, to go home. Russell then got aggressive, saying he was “going to fight with his boys”. He received a final warning from a police officer but continued to insult him before attempting to ride away on his bike.

Officers soon found him at nearby Winrose Approach with two metal poles – he told police he would use them if they approached him before smashing the rear window of a parked car.

On the evening of 23 May 2019, Russell broke into a lorry parked at Woodall Services near Rotherham and stole 35 televisions worth £9,717. Police were able to trace the crime back to him after finding traces of his blood at the scene.

On August 19, 2019, Russell broke into a warehouse in Old Mill Lane, Leeds. There he short-wired a van and loaded it with electrical equipment and clothing he found on pallets nearby. He attempted to flee the scene in the van but was unable to get through the metal gates. He then attempted to break them up with an angle grinder before finally ramming the vehicle through a fence.

Unfortunately for Russell, the van got stuck and was hit by another vehicle.

The court heard how Russell had claimed he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia back in 2014, but his medical records only listed drug-induced psychosis.

Mitigating for Russell, Fiona Clancy began by addressing the truck break-in, adding: “Having met him he doesn’t seem like the type of guy who’s capable of handling things like this – you can to the rest extract insults that paint a picture of absolute chaos.

“This defendant drank and drank and drank throughout the crime. While in custody, he admitted his guilt.

“He realizes he’s going to spend some time [in prison]and looks forward to going to a labor prison – he wants to work wherever he is.”

Russell had previously pleaded guilty to felony molestation, breaking into an unoccupied home, theft from a vehicle, beating an emergency worker twice, damaging property twice, failing to court twice, being intoxicated and disorderly, and possession of an assault weapon.

Judge Robin Mairs, who jailed Russell, said: “I have to deal with you on a number of counts of violence and dishonesty.

“The harassment was committed over a 13 month period – it was a regular diet of homophobic abuse. They had done you no harm whatsoever, and you could hardly cross their path without yelling threats and insults.

“Whether it’s a deep-seated insecurity of yours I don’t know, but the presence of her three-year-old nephew hasn’t stopped her from shouting threats and insults.

“The strain it caused them was deep – they lived in their own house and mind their own business, they did nothing to accomplish this themselves. They have decided to harass and bully her without mercy.

Judge Mairs addressed his crimes as a whole, later adding: “I have no doubt that you spent most of your time in a state of intoxication and drugs. I have not the slightest information that you suffer from an organic insanity that caused this offense.”

Russell was sentenced to numerous consecutive prison terms, totaling 59 months.

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