Rave woman aged 75 has to pay £35,000 over her harassment of neighbours
By Electronic Telegraph – Monday 11 June 2002
Copyright: Electronic Telegraph
A pensioner who was said to have allowed her home to be used for illegal raves and cannabis growing, and was suspected of eating her neighbours’ koi carp as part of a campaign of harassment against them, was ordered to pay them £35,000 in damages and costs by a court yesterday.
A judge said the dispute between Ellen Jones, 75, and Mark and Jane Fowler was the most acrimonious he had come across.
He issued an injunction against the pensioner forbidding her from harassing, threatening, assaulting or otherwise interfering with Mr Fowler, 45, an accountant, and his 53-year-old wife.
Miss Jones, a former Land Army girl who manages a 90-acre farm in Newchapel, Surrey, left Lewes County Court, East Sussex, unrepentant despite the judge telling her that she should patch up her long-running quarrel.
Each had sued the other for damages. The judge, Recorder Christopher Morris-Coole, found largely in favour of the Fowlers and, in a 26-page judgment, said: “Miss Jones gives the impression of a determined, single-minded veteran of country life who makes ends meet as best she can.”
But he added that she had “a cleverness which is not lacking in guile and I am convinced that she would be an artful and spiteful adversary”.
“She has her own, outmoded idea as to how life should be on a farm although it has been made clear to her many times by the courts, local authorities, the environmental agency, the police, her neighbours and others that she has to observe certain standards.”
The Fowlers, who had sued for £75,000 damages for harassment and loss of value to their £375,000 15th Century farmhouse, said afterwards they hoped that they and their children, aged eight and 13, could now lead a normal neighbourly existence.
“We are going to try to make peace with Miss Jones, but it’s up to her,” said Mrs Fowler.
Miss Jones said: “I have done nothing wrong. They are the problem.” The judge ordered her to pay £10,200 damages and two thirds of the cost of the case, estimated at £25,000.
At an earlier hearing, the Fowlers said Miss Jones indulged in anti-social practices including lighting acrid bonfires, throwing dog faeces at their fence, obstructing their driveway and ignoring court orders.
They suspected her of being behind the disappearance of their koi carp, believing that she had fried them for supper.
Miss Jones claimed that the Fowlers trespassed on her property, invaded her privacy by installing CCTV cameras and had not paid their share of water supply bills.
The judge ordered the Fowlers to pay Miss Jones nearly £1,200 in connection with the water supply and £1 nominal damages for trespassing on her property when reversing out of the driveway.