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Neighbour forced to pay £250 over apple tree harassment row

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Antoinette Williams is alleged to have acted like a “school bully” and to have displayed “disgraceful” behaviour towards Barbara Pilcher over the 40ft high Bramley apple tree. Mrs Pilcher sued her neighbour after the tree dropped rotting apples onto her lawn, attracting hoards of wasps to the pile of decomposing fruit.

Mrs Williams then is alleged to have started a hate campaign against her neighbour, staring at her through a window, failing to prune the apple tree, and keeping a smelly compost heap at the bottom of her garden.

A five-day trial ensued at London Country Court, where presiding Judge, Lawrence Cohen QC ruled in favour of Mrs Pilcher, and ordered Mrs Williams to pay compensation.

The incidents started back in 2014.

The court heard that Mrs Pilcher had been unable to use the bottom of her garden, and was made to feel like a “prisoner in her own home”.

It is alleged that the tension between the two neighbours became so bad, that family members of Mrs Pilcher stopped visiting her due to the feud.

Barrister Oliver Newman told the court: “Upon Mrs Williams’ refusal to cut the tree back, Mrs Pilcher exercised her right to do so in June 2014, which resulted in a barrage of allegations from Mrs Williams that she had cut the tree at an inappropriate time, cut it back too far and had caused a poor harvest.”

Adding to the case he continued: “Due to this and Mrs Williams’ other behaviour which upset Mrs Pilcher and led her to fear confrontation, she subsequently felt unable to exercise her rights for fear of Mrs Williams’ reaction.”

Claiming that the wasps could cause his client to have a strong allergic reaction, the Barrister said: “Mrs Pilcher has as a result been left unable to use the bottom of her garden due to the smell from rotting apples and the composters, the fear of falling apples and the fear of wasps, having been hospitalised in 2018 after being stung multiple times by wasps from a nearby wasps nest.”

Damages were claimed over the nuisance caused by the apples, but Judge Cohen said this particular issue had been resolved during the course of the trial after Mrs Williams “agreed to have the tree professionally pruned.”

Mrs Williams denied the allegations and has accused Mrs Pilcher of having mental health problems.

The argument then extended to an issue over parking rights.

CCTV captured footage of Mrs Willams driving over the verge of Mrs Pilchers home, damaging the garden in the process.

Judge Cohen described this incident as “disgraceful vandalism.”

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Claiming that the parking incident gave a valuable insight into Mrs Williams’ behaviour, Judge Cohen stated that Mrs Williams was not found to be a reliable witness the incident.

In passing the ruling, Mr Cohen summed up by saying: “There is strong evidence of Mrs Williams behaving in a vindictive way towards Mrs Pilcher deliberately to alarm and distress her and that she is lacking in self control.”

Mrs Pilcher was awarded £12,000 for the harassment, while Mrs Williams was ordered to pay costs of between £135,000 – £180,000, as well as her own lawyer bills amounting to £100,000.

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