AN ARMED forces veteran who terrified neighbours and poured petrol over their car following a six-year row has avoided having his conviction recorded.

Stephen McEwan, 55, argued he would lose his job if there was a formal conviction for threatening or abusive behaviour.

Sheriff William Gallacher last summer branded it an “enormous ask” from McEwan’s defence solicitor, but agreed last week regardless.

Dumbarton Sheriff Court previously heard how McEwan lived next to neighbours in Fraser Avenue, Helensburgh, for nearly 20 years before a dispute over building works cut off contact six years ago.

Over two years, he made six separate reports to police complaining of loud music and nuisance from the neighbours.

On May 25, 2018, a 20-year-old son in the family next door had friends over for a barbecue while his parents were out, and told the court that throughout the evening there were up to a dozen people in the garden, with music being played through a speaker as well as coming from the living room.

At about 10.30pm, a witness in the living room heard the front door being banged – and looked out to see McEwan next to his neighbour’s car.

McEwan was then seen throwing a can of petrol at the parked vehicle, causing the can to burst and liquid to pour out over the car.

The 20-year-old and his friend went out the front door and saw McEwan shouting and swearing and challenging the neighbour to fight.

The court heard witnesses detected a strong smell of alcohol, and of petrol, and police were called.

McEwan had served 22 years in the military, then four years in Afghanistan, and nine years between Babcock and BAE Systems.

At the court last week, defence solicitor Judith Reid said her client and his family would like to move but they could not get a mortgage with the conviction.

She said: “He has been living in limbo in a number of ways.”

Sheriff Gallacher asked: “Is his position that this is the only job he can do?”

He pointed out it was “not a trivial matter” but he agreed to grant an absolute discharge in the case. The sheriff said this was because of the impact a conviction would have on him and his changed circumstances since the offence.

McEwan had been of good behaviour since he pleaded guilty last August.