Woman, 79, sentenced for neighbour harassment

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Video caption Woman poured urine on neighbour's plants

A 79-year-old woman has been sentenced to 28 days in prison for what officials have described as a "campaign of intimidation" against her neighbours.

Kathleen Neal, of Castle Donington, Leicestershire, sprayed weed killer and poured urine on to plants belonging to her neighbour Susan Brookes.

CCTV shows Neal pushing over her neighbour's plant pots, having removed a fence panel.

She was sentenced in her absence at Nottingham County Court on Monday.

Neal was also ordered to pay legal costs of £4,323 after seven breaches of an injunction placed on her in 2016.

Leicestershire Police said a warrant had been issued and Neal was arrested earlier. The court said she was due to appear on Friday.

Image caption Susan Brookes says she wonders if the harassment was triggered by Neal finding out she grew up in a council house

Mrs Brookes, 67, said her neighbour had "relentlessly" targeted her and husband Keith, 70, since the year after they moved into the property in 2002.

"She certainly has been a neighbour from hell," she said. "For somebody who's 79, she's pretty sprightly.

"She comes over as this poor little old lady but you should see her climbing over the 5ft fence to get into our garden."

The court heard Neal's catalogue of anti-social behaviour included trespassing on the Brookes property and conducting a campaign of silent phone calls made from a pay-as-you-go mobile phone.

'Posh side of town'

She also deliberately lit smoky bonfires in her garden and caused criminal damage.

"It's been terrible," Mrs Brookes told the BBC. "Your whole life becomes about 'what's she going to do next?'.

"We haven't wanted to go away on holiday. Once when we were away she chopped down a tree and threw it into our garden.

"We've had to get CCTV and I have folders and folders of evidence about what she's done. I think the law needs to speed up a little bit in cases like this."

Mrs Brookes said she did not know what had sparked the harassment campaign but thought it might have been prompted by Neal finding out she used to live in a council house.

"This is the posh side of town," she said. "She used to say things to me like, 'We don't want your sort around here'."

Image copyright Susan Brookes
Image caption Neal was caught spraying weed killer into her neighbour's garden

Mrs Brookes said the prison sentence had come as "a relief".

"No-one wants to see an elderly lady go to prison but Mrs Neal has shown no remorse for her actions," she said.

"My husband and I therefore now hope that the shock and shame of serving a short sentence in prison will finally change her ways."

Insp Richard Jackson, from North West Leicestershire neighbourhood policing area, said: "No-one should live in fear of their neighbour and unfortunately Neal has repeatedly refused to put a stop to her campaign.

"It is our hope that this sentence will finally put a stop to the behaviour which has blighted one family's lives for some considerable time."

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