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It was all over in six minutes but has changed our lives forever

A doctor and his wife who were convicted of intimidating their next door neighbour in one of Edinburgh’s most prestigious neighbourhoods have spoken for the first time of the six-minute row that changed their lives.

 

Leafy Merchiston was rocked by the case which saw Dr John McCallum, 50, and his wife Michele, 44, both fined for breach of the peace after “unhappy differences” with their neighbour escalated.

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The couple said what started as an argument between the neighbours turned into “your worst nightmare” in the road which counts Harry Potter author JK Rowling, Rebus creator Ian Rankin and Scotland rugby star David Johnston as residents.

The crime writer was named on the original witness list for the court case, but was not called to give evidence.

Dr McCallum, a GP for more than 20 years, and his wife were convicted of intimidating Rosaline Kinder, 49, after he claimed she nearly knocked down his children.

Last week their fines totalling £5,000 were reduced after a judge ruled them excessive.

The McCallums have moved from their £1.5million villa in Napier Road and are hoping to enjoy a trouble-free existence in their new home in the Scottish capital.

Dr McCallum recalled the row which has earned him a criminal record. He said: “It was all over in six minutes. I stood in the driveway to talk to her and she started tooting her horn. Michele came out.

“What had started as an argument between neighbours turned into your worst nightmare.”

On the day of the offence, Mrs Kinder said she arrived home in her car with her son, five, and Dr McCallum stood in the entrance to the drive, preventing her from reversing on to her property.

Mrs McCallum, a mother-of-four, appeared on the scene with Mrs Kinder, who lives with her film-maker husband Guy, claiming that her neighbour tried to pull the door of the car open and that she feared she was going to be hit.

Sheriff Graeme Warner convicted Dr and Mrs McCallum of putting Mrs Kinder in a state of fear and alarm and committing a breach of the peace.

While Dr McCallum admits that he and his wife should not have acted in the way they did, he claimed that the case has been a disproportionate use of public time and money.

The GP, who is still waiting to hear if he will be disciplined by the General Medical Council, said he would not challenge his conviction further after his appeal failed last week.

“This has been going on for two and half years now. The publicity and the extended nature of this has been incredible,” he said.

“To continue at this stage would be too consuming.

“Michele and I want to say that it is very regrettable that we got involved in a completely unseemly situation.

“We would apologise for this thoroughly wasteful use of the valuable public resources taken up by the process that followed, and by that I mean the police time and court time.

“We clearly should not have conducted ourselves in the manner that we did. This was completely uncharacteristic.

“The initial complaint concerning our neighbour and in our view the endangerment of our children by her driving, should have been left to the police to deal with. The appeal court found that Sheriff Warner significantly erred.”

Three appeal court judges said the sheriff was wrong when he described the incident as “the worst breach of the peace” in his career.

The judges wrote that the sheriff took an “overly severe” attitude.

Mrs McCallum said her children, aged between six and 17, had struggled with the publicity.

She said: “It has not been easy. I think the most damaging thing was the way they were treated. I told them, as any mother would do, to tell the truth (in court) and everything would be all right.

“They told the truth and they weren’t believed.”

The appeal court studied a witness’s account, in which a cyclist had confirmed Mrs Kinder’s concerns.

The cyclist, who was said to have felt unable to leave the incident, got in Mrs Kinder’s car and stayed with her until the matter ended. The McCallums are considering other legal issues, including possible action over claims made in a letter to Edinburgh City Council from the Kinders.

The document, filed with a planning application for a wooden gate, made reference to the McCallums’ “campaign of harassment ... this included incidents of stalking and kerb crawling”. Dr McCallum said: “We are getting further legal advice about the submission from Mr Kinder to Edinburgh City Council, in which he made allegations about the McCallum family including that my wife is a kerb crawler.”

Dr McCallum last week had his fine of £2500 reduced to £750, and Mrs McCallum had her £2500 fine reduced to £400.

Last night the Kinders declined to comment.

A family source close to Guy Kinder said of the kerb-crawling allegations were misconstrued. The source added: “It was not a reference to prostution, but to do with her driving.”

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