A BESOTTED Tory councillor bought an ex-lover presents for her cats in a bid to win her back - and then threatened to kill them when she rejected his advances, a court heard yesterday.

Mark Mewse, of Cranesbridge Road, began a 'constant barrage' of messages to Sarah Houchin in an attempt to rekindle their relationship after they broke up, magistrates were told.

Over the span of 10 months, the 64-year-old made repeated unwanted face to face contact with Ms Houchin, left her gifts and visited her place of work.

The pair met in September 2021 when Ms Houchin became a driver for Salisbury Reds while Mewse was an instructor for the company.

The court heard how they soon after entered into an "on and off" romantic relationship for almost a year and there would be instances of Ms Houchin sending Mewse "nasty jealous texts" every "three to four days" followed by periods of silence but they would make up a few days later.

Mewse, a Salisbury City Councillor for St Francis and Stratford, unofficially ended things one month after starting a new job at Aspire Defence Ltd, Larkhill, in October 2022 by telling Ms Houchin "I don't need this sh*t in my life" in response a "nasty" text.

Mewse also claimed Ms Houchin pursued a "vendetta" against him after cancelling a proposed holiday to New York. 

Salisbury Journal: Mark Mewse, chair of Salisbury City Council's personnel committee, has been found guilty of harassment.Mark Mewse, chair of Salisbury City Council's personnel committee, has been found guilty of harassment. (Image: Solent News)

Ms Houchin then said things "turned weird" as the months went on.

She told the court that, following the separation, Mewse sent a "barrage of messages", repeatedly asking her to meet him and "would not take no for an answer".

Mewse would appear at bus stops, blow kisses and wave to Ms Houchin while she drove around town. To this, he rebutted that he waves at all bus drivers, even after leaving the job, as a courtesy.

"I'm a bus driver I should not be feeling anxious for doing my job when someone is at the side of the road waving. It's incredibly distracting," Ms Houchin told the court.

On Christmas Eve 2022, Mewse had plans to catch the R5 so that he could drop a bag of presents for Ms Houchin and her cat outside their home in Harnharm in an attempt to "win her back".

It was around this time Mewse discovered that Ms Houchin was in a new relationship.

Upon boarding the bus, he realised Ms Houchin was in fact driving so he "dumped" the bag on the dashboard and left.

The following month, on January 12, Mewse left a bunch of flowers and a card on Ms Houchin's car to congratulate her one-year anniversary since passing her bus driving test.

Ms Houchin then told the court that two days later Mewse approached her at Blue Boar Row as she was getting off her final bus for the day. She told Mewse if he didn't leave her alone, she would "go to the police".

It is then, Ms Houchin alleged, Mewse told her "I will kill your cats if you go to the police" and "jabbed" his finger in her face.

Upon hearing this threat, a "shaken and upset" Ms Houchin ran to the Red's control room in Castle Street while Mewse "chased" behind her.

Quality controller Simon Johnson, who was working at the time, comforted Ms Houchin and in evidence said her behaviour was "out of character".

Mewse denied the incident in its entirety and said: "It's absolute rubbish. It's a complete fabrication for attention seeking."

The "final straw" for Ms Houchin was when Mewse left a mental health day letter on her windscreen in May in which he said she "should show some compassion" towards him.

Salisbury Journal: Mark Mewse outside Salisbury Law Courts on Wednesday, March 27.Mark Mewse outside Salisbury Law Courts on Wednesday, March 27. (Image: Solent News)

This came after Mewse received a message from Ms Houchin telling him she "did not care" in response to him telling her about how he had a mental breakdown in February and went missing.

Chair magistrate Sarah Neish said the bench found Ms Houchin's evidence to be "clear, compelling and believable" and that Mewse had been found guilty of harassment.

She added: "We accept they were more than coincidences and were evidently unwelcomed and unreasonable.

“We also listened very carefully to Mr Mewse’s evidence. It is inconceivable that all of the contacts could’ve happened randomly."

The bench took into account that he is a man of "previous good character".

Mewse will be sentenced on April 25.