A couple have told how their retirement was turned into a nightmare by a 14-year dispute with a neighbour.
Mavis and Alan Ward looked forward to a quiet retirement in their Thornton bungalow.
It’s been going on for years and I carry a panic alarm with me all the time
But life for the Wards became unbearable and ended with their home being turned into a virtual fortress surrounded by CCTV cameras and panic alarms, a court was told.
It all started 14 years ago when next door neighbour Kirsty Robertson moved in.
She did not like the sandstone paint on an area of the Wards’ pebble dashed wall adjacent to her home and, while they were out, painted it white.
At Blackpool Magistrates Court, yesterday, the Wards, of Leaway Close, successfully proved their case that they had been harassed by 46-year-old Robertson.
It was the eighth hearing of the case and District Judge Andrew Pascoe allowed it to go ahead in Robertson’s absence.
He found the case proved and issued a warrant for Robertson’s arrest.
Adrian Hollamby, prosecuting, said the court was dealing with a period from November last year to this April, during which the Wards had suffered verbal abuse, threats and had objects thrown at their £150,000 semi-detached home by their next door neighbour.
Giving evidence, 66-year-old grandmother Mrs Ward said that incidents involving Roberston stretched back 14 years in all.
She said on one occasion her son put a tree which had blown down in gales back into Robertson’s garden where it had been growing.
Robertson confronted Mrs Ward later and the pensioner told the court: “She told me to leave her property alone and that she knew everything about us because she was watching what we did on the internet.
“My husband got a similar text message on his mobile phone.”
She said on two occasions she believed Robertson had thrown slates at their bungalow and another in which she said Robertson had taken pictures of the Wards’ granddaughter.
She said: “Then, in April this year, I was mowing the lawn and she saw me, stopped and ran her hand across her throat with a cutting action and said she would not stop until I was dead.
“She has been hell-bent on destroying us by her intimidation and harassment and swearing – using words I cannot repeat.
“It’s been going on for years and I carry a panic alarm with me all the time.
“We have to check our local supermarket car park to make sure she is not there before we dare go in ourselves.”
Mrs Ward’s husband, Alan, 67, told the court: “One of the worst incidents was when she started to take pictures of our grand-daughter.
“When she was asked to stop she used the foulest of language – terrible and disgusting words in front of a child.
“She told our grand-daughter ‘you will find out one day what your Nana is really like’.
“It has been awful for my wife. I don’t know what really started it. I suppose it was the painting of the rendering. She did not like the sandstone colour.”
The retired tea shop owner added: “We have worked all our lives and just want a bit of peace.”
The judge sitting at Blackpool Magistrates Court said that the Wards had both been credible witnesses.
He said: “This has been going on for 14 years and culminated in the graphic gesture to Mrs Ward by Robertson with her hand in a cutting movement and the threat that she should be dead.
“There has been a course of action which is harassment and maybe I have only heard of the tip of the iceberg.”
The judge heard that Robertson had not given an interview to police about her conduct.
He issued the warrant for her arrest after finding the case proved and said a restraining order on Robertson would have to be issued when she attends court.