Tuesday, April 15, 2008


By Elizabeth Dinan

Owner of classic car says jealous husband should pay for damage

April 15, 2008 2:09 PMPORTSMOUTH — The owner of a restored 1968 Mustang that was "totaled" by his girlfriend’s jealous husband, who pummeled it with a golf club, told a judge his insurance company should not have to pay the $14,000 in damage.

The jealous husband, Matthew Neill, 30, of 41 Front St., Exeter, pleaded guilty in March to a pair of criminal mischief offenses, admitting he went to a Holly Lane residence on Jan. 12 and beat the antique Mustang with a golf club. He also admitted smashing the windshield of his bride’s 2007 Honda.

Neill was summonsed to Portsmouth District Court for an April 15 restitution hearing when, through an attorney, he disputed the $14,000 figure and suggested payment come from the insurance company.

The Mustang's owner (the Herald does not publish the names of crime victims) told the court he and his father restored the car to certified classic condition and displayed multiple photos as evidence. Another set of photos showed smashed out windows, removed Mustang logos, a smashed rearview mirror and damage to the interior caused by weather getting through the broken windows.

The cost to repair it to its restored condition, he told the court, is $5,068 for the interior and $11,753 for the exterior.

"It’s never going to be a classic vehicle again," he testified, adding his insurance company offered to total the car at the Blue Book value of $14,000.

Under cross examination by Neill’s attorney, the Mustang owner told the court he has no intention to file a claim for that $14,000.

Judge Stephen Morrison asked why.

"I was very upset and I don’t feel the insurance company should pay for the damage," he said. "He should pay for the damage to the vehicle."

The judge said he would review the evidence and issue a ruling at a later date.
Neill previously admitted that after discovering his bride was with another man, he grabbed the golf club and smashed out multiple windows on both of their cars.

During a March hearing, prosecutor Corey MacDonald told the court the victims reported hearing "a loud banging" outside, then discovered their damaged cars. After telling the officer they saw a familiar sport utility vehicle flee the scene, the investigation moved to Exeter, where police there found Neill’s vehicle still warm and stained with blood.

A broken golf club was discovered on the passenger seat.

Neill’s attorney, Phil McLaughlin, described the crimes as the "unfortunate" result of the dissolution of a six-month marriage.

Neill was sentenced to 12 months in the Rockingham County House of Corrections and fined $500, with $250 suspended. The sentence and half the fine are suspended contingent on his good behavior and payment of restitution.

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