“I don’t know whether it was the neighbours’ Christmas lights or their inflatable Santas which finally pushed him over the edge, but something just snapped and the next thing I knew he’d set up that display on the front lawn,” sobs Christina Tozzer, as she recalls the bizarre chain of events which resulted in her husband Vernon waging his own private war on Christmas. “I looked out of the dining room window and there he was, standing in front of several inflatable sex dolls he’d dressed in festive outfits, screaming abuse at the neighbours!” Enraged by what they saw as a blasphemous travesty of the nativity scene – the Virgin Mary apparently represented by a pneumatic red haired doll in crotchless panties, attended by semi-naked wise ‘women’ bearing gifts of vibrators and dildoes – an angry mob, led by the local vicar and including several neighbours, besieged the semi-detached Esher house, tearing down Tozzer’s display and hurling stones at the windows. “It was terrifying, they forced their way into the house and dragged poor Vernon outside,” recalls Mrs Tozzer. “They were trying to string him up from next door’s Christmas tree with some of those coloured lights when the police arrived.” However, it was Tozzer who found himself arrested by the police, and charged with public indecency, criminal damage and anti-social behaviour. “We had little choice but to take Mr Tozzer into protective custody – feelings are still running very high in the local community and we fear for his safety,” explains Inspector John Argle. “The unfortunate business with the inflatable women was the culmination of a series of similar incidents involving offensive Christmas decorations.” Christina Tozzer admits that her husband’s behaviour prior to the doll incident may have been provocative. “He did rearrange those illuminated reindeer on Number Twelve’s lawn to make it look like they were rutting,” she concedes. “And then there was the time he went out in dead of night and rearranged Number Seven’s Christmas lights – when they switched them on the next evening there was this huge illuminated penis flashing on the front of their house. Every time it flashed on, it appeared to ejaculate. It was incredibly elaborate, actually. It really surprised me, as Vernon had never shown any artistic tendencies before then.” But what could possibly have driven the mild mannered Surrey accounts executive to such extremes of behaviour?

Christina Tozzer claims that it was the unreasonable behaviour of their neighbours which pushed her husband to the edge. “He was subjected to terrible abuse because he wouldn’t join in with them in putting those silly lights on the outside of the house – every December people would start shouting abuse at him in the street, calling him ‘Scrooge’ and a ‘miserable bastard’,” she says. “For years he ignored it, but then the children started getting bullied because of the lack of lights – they’d often come home in tears!” When, last year, Tozzer remonstrated with his neighbours over the bullying, he found himself met with further abuse. “When he drove home from work the evening after having it out with them, he found himself running a gauntlet of Christmas lights spelling out ‘Wanker’ and ‘Tosser’,” Mrs Tozzer recalls. “One of them had even set up a life-size Santa with an electrically powered arm that kept sticking two fingers up at Vernon. It was so humiliating – it was then that he started his campaign against the lights.” Originally Tozzer confined himself to disrupting his neighbours’ decorations by shooting out their light bulbs with an air rifle. “He’d lean out of the bedroom window and take pot shots. Eventually the neighbours complained to the police and they confiscated the rifle,” says Christina. “So he instead resorted to blacking up his face and hands and going out in dead of night to stab their inflatables with a kitchen knife. I remember that their kids would be in tears when they got up in the morning to find their giant blow up Santas limp and flaccid on the ground. How Vernon laughed!” With the advent of Twelfth Night, hostilities were suspended for another year. “It was this Christmas that things really got out of hand,” admits Mrs Tozzer. “It started with Vernon getting increasingly irritated with the traffic congestion on the street caused by sightseers coming to gawp at the lights – there were tailbacks for up to a mile, it was taking him hours to get home from work.” His response was to physically attack his neighbours decorations. “He just walked over to the house opposite and started tugging at the electrical cables – he pulled an illuminated reindeer and sleigh off of the porch roof,” says Christina. “It came down with an almighty crash! The neighbours came running out at started shouting at him, but he just ignored them and moved on to the next house and began kicking over the illuminated elves in their garden!” Tozzer was eventually restrained by his neighbours and subsequently cautioned by the police.

Perhaps sensing victory, Tozzer’s neighbours now escalated the dispute. “When we got back from the police station, we found that the three houses opposite had set up new displays,” Mr Tozzer says. “One had a mechanical mooning Santa, flashing his backside in the direction of our bedroom window, whilst another had loudspeakers blasting out inane Christmas music. All three had incredibly bright flashing lights, which burned all day and night. They were so bright that it was like daylight in our bedroom, we could hardly sleep – I think they were hoping to drive us off of the street.” However, Tozzer’s response this time surprised everyone. “He decided that if he couldn’t beat them, he’d join them,” says his wife. “That’s when he set up that display on the lawn! I must say that I think some people rather overreacted to it. I mean, compared to some of the garish decorations the neighbours had up, it was quite restrained.” According to the police, it wasn’t just a few festive sex dolls and some obscene lights which had caused problems, there was also the matter of Tozzer’s behaviour. “He was running up and down the street, clad only in a red Santa jacket and boots, shouting ‘You wanted decorations – now take a look at these’,” reveals Inspector Argle. “At which point he’d stand in front his neighbours’ windows and open his jacket to reveal his private parts festooned with Christmas decorations.” In addition to baubles hanging from his pubic hair, Tozzer’s penis allegedly had a string of flashing Christmas lights wrapped around it. “As if that wasn’t disturbing enough for his neighbours, he also simulated sex with an inflatable Santa,” says Argle. “This sort of behaviour really is unacceptable, no matter what provocation Mr Tozzer had suffered – he should have followed the legal path and tried to get a court order against his neighbours.” Despite the views of the police, Christina Tozzer maintains that it is her husband who is the victim, denying that he is a killjoy intent on spoiling other people’s enjoyment of Christmas. “He was just trying to stand up for his principles – he always felt that Christmas was essentially a private family affair, and that decorations belonged inside the house, not outside,” she explains. “I’m sure that there many other people like him, up and down the country, who are sick of having these ostentatious and vulgar decorations thrust in their faces!” Indeed, sympathisers have already pledged thousands of pound to a fighting fund to pay for Tozzer’s defence.