“A police chief’s cosy housewarming party went disastrously wrong after her boyfriend and new neighbours ended up having a furious row over parking in the early hours of the morning.
Alison Hernandez, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, has been left picking up the pieces after three complaints were made to the local force against her partner, Lucius Gray.
Ms Hernandez, 45, who made the headlines last year when she suggested that gun owners could help foil terror attacks, had only been in her new home three weeks when tempers flared.
She gave out Prosecco and pot-plants to try and smooth things over, but her efforts were angrily dismissed as ‘political damage limitation’ by neighbours.
They insist Mr Gray, a formerly homeless aspiring Tory councillor, has been ‘abusive, obnoxious, rude and threatening’, while he says they are trying to scupper his chances of election in a crunch local vote in May.
The fracas occurred on Saturday night when Ms Hernandez and Mr Gray, 44, hosted a dinner party for two fellow Conservative couples in a sleepy suburb of Torquay.
They served salmon and cheesecake followed by cheese and biscuits, washed down with ‘several bottles’ of wine.
One of the guests, the leader of the Tory Councillors, David Thomas, 55, parked his silver Jaguar in a space that belonged to a neighbour, 70-year-old Alan Binding.
When Mr Binding came home, he retaliated by parking his car across the driveway, blocking all the vehicles in.
‘I was not a happy bunny,’ he told MailOnline. ‘I own that parking space. I should be able to park in it any time I feel like it.’
At 1:30am, when the dinner party was over, Mr Gray – who admitted he had ‘had a few drinks’ but denied being drunk – went with teetotal Mr Thomas to find the culprit.
According to neighbours, he started banging on windows and doors before using a key to gain access to a private hallway, where he rang on a number of doorbells.
This provoked a heated exchange with a younger couple who had been woken up, despite having nothing to do with the dispute.
‘He banged on our window and rang our doorbell in the middle of the night,’ said the neighbour, who did not want to be named.
‘He then used piggish language and was really rude and threatening to my girlfriend.
‘The fact that he’s a Tory candidate makes my blood boil. If you want a woman’s vote, you don’t speak to her like that.’
Mr Gray denied he was abusive and blamed the couple for ‘over-reacting’.
‘The lady launched into an unbelievable tirade which was completely inappropriate,’ he said. ‘We were trying to establish who owned the car. When it became clear that the car wasn’t hers, we tried to apologise and left. But she was apoplectic.
‘It’s not true that I was aggressive. I’m six-foot-three. I may I seem instantly intimidating, but I can hardly be blamed for being tall. It was absurd.’
When the two Tories established that Mr Binding was the owner of the car instead, a second argument then broke out on the landing with the pensioner.
‘Mr Gray really wound me up,’ Mr Binding said. ‘It was 1:30am and he was being arrogant and aggressive. He said, “do you know who these people are? They’re Tory councillors”.
‘He seemed to think I should bow down to them, when they had no right to be there.’
Mr Gray, who was made homeless by his parents at the age of 16 and was brought up in supported care, said he was being stigmatised because of his ‘tough’ background.
“I do feel this is very politically motivated, to rubbish my part in the campaign. If people like me who have had tough experiences are treated like this, it’s no surprise that we don’t want to get involved in politics.’
The neighbours insisted that they neither belonged to political parties or had any special interest in politics.
One added: ‘Alison is supposed to be the pinnacle of integrity. She hires and fires the Chief Constable. She holds very high office and is an elected representative.
‘Yet she is going out with a man who wakes up pensioners in the small hours and kicks off at them. Torbay people would be disgusted. She has to be held accountable.’
The day after the altercation, Ms Hernandez delivered handwritten apology cards, accompanied by bottles of Prosecco and pot-plants, but to no avail.
‘I feel quite persecuted, really, and targeted,’ she told MailOnline. ‘My neighbours are using a petty argument for political purposes. It’s absolutely pathetic.’
Neighbours revealed this was the second confrontation with Mr Gray since Ms Hernandez moved in.
On the first occasion, Mr Gray took a neighbour by surprise when he entered the private property after dark via a back gate and was allegedly ‘abusive and intimidating’ when asked to identify himself.
Mr Gray acknowledged he had ‘reacted inappropriately’, but said there had been bad behaviour on both sides and the matter was now closed.
This is not the first time that Ms Hernandez herself has been mired in controversy.
She made the headlines last year when she suggested that gun owners could help foil terror attacks, something that police chiefs dismissed out of hand.
In February, the road safety specialist – who lobbied the Government to raise the cost of speeding tickets – was slapped with a speeding fine and a parking ticket in two days.
Last year, her former partner received a 15-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, for assaulting and then stalking her when she ended the relationship.”