Woman in £200,000 court battle over Surrey neighbour’s wasp nest

Surrey neighbours Antoinette Williams, left, and Barbara Pilcher are locked in an expensive court battle (Picture: Champion News)

A gardener and her neighbour are at loggerheads in court over a ‘trivial’ dispute involving fruit falling from an apple tree onto next door’s lawn.

Barbara Pilcher, who is allergic to wasps, is in a £200,000 court battle with her Surrey neighbour Antoinette Williams after claiming her life has been plagued with smelly compost bins and rotting fruit.

She says she has been left a ‘prisoner in her own home’ due to the sheer number of stinging insects flocking to her garden.

Mrs Pilcher is seeking compensation and an injunction after claiming she has suffered years of harassment, trespass and nuisance.

Central London County Court heard Mrs Pilcher may have already run up a ‘horrific’ £200,000 lawyers’ bill in the fight.

But Dunsfold and Hascombe Horticultural Society member Mrs Williams is defending the claim, saying her neighbour’s case is groundless and ‘trivial’.

She told Judge Laurence Cohen QC that Mrs Pilcher started the tensions herself by making ‘a very rude gesture’ at her in a row over car parking.

Mrs Williams said she moved into Frensham Cottage in Dunsford nearly 40 years ago, while Mrs Pilcher bought adjoining Farleigh Cottage in 2010.

Champion News: 07948286566/07914583378 news@championnews.co.uk Picture shows the adjoining homes of warring neighbours Barbara Pilcher (centre) and Antoinette Williams (right) in Dunsford, Surrey

The adjoining homes of warring neighbours Barbara Pilcher, centre, and Antoinette Williams, right, in Dunsford, Surrey (Picture: Champion News)

But their feud developed from 2013 when the pair had a dispute over the boundary between their rear gardens, and Mrs Pilcher claimed Mrs Williams had blocked her right of way and allowed damp to filter into her home.

In the following months and years, Mrs Pilcher said Mrs Williams allegedly ‘shouted and laughed at her’, blocked her from parking outside her own home and ‘repeatedly and unnecessarily’ churned up the grass verge in her car.

She claims Mrs Williams harassed her by ‘coughing and making noises near her’ and by taking her post.

In one incident in January 2015 Mrs Pilcher called the police claiming her neighbour had banged on her front door and shouted at her, before repeatedly driving over the grass verge and gesturing rudely.

But Mrs Williams said she was provoked by Mrs Pilcher, who allegedly gave her the middle finger from her window.

‘I had gone to her front door to ask if she would move her car as it was blocking access and she came to the window and made a very rude gesture,’ Mrs Williams told the court.

Pressed by the judge to expand, she explained: ‘I would rather not do it in court – I do apologise – because she put the third finger up and it’s not in my demeanour to do that.

‘She just stood in the window and gave me the third finger.’

Barbara Pilcher says she has been left a ‘prisoner in her own home’ due to the sheer number of wasps flocking to her garden (Picture: Champion News)

Mrs Pilcher is also claiming damages for nuisance due to the smell from the compost bins, and the way fruit falls into her garden from Mrs Williams’ apple tree.

‘Mrs Williams has positioned her composters on the boundary at the bottom of the gardens,’ explained Oliver Newman, Mrs Pilcher’s barrister.

‘They are frequently left uncovered and overflowing. Over time the smell has become worse and has left the claimant unable to use the bottom of her garden.’

Mrs Pilcher added her neighbour failed to prune an overhanging tree which left hundreds of apples in her garden.

She said the rotting fruit attracted wasps, which was alarming for Mrs Pilcher as she has a wasp allergy and was hospitalised in 2018 after an attack.

The court heard Mrs Pilcher picked up around 1,000 fallen apples from the ground last year in her desperation to avoid being stung again.

Mr Newman added: ‘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.

Antoinette Williams says her neighbour’s case is groundless and ‘trivial’ (Picture: Champion News)

‘While her allergy makes her more sensitive to issues of rotting fruit leading to insect activity, it is submitted that any reasonable user would regard the amount of rotting fruit and subsequent issues with wasps and other insects as a nuisance.’

Now the dispute over boundary rights is resolved, Mrs Pilcher is pursuing claims over damp seepage, obstructing her right of way as well as the allegations of harassment, nuisance and trespass.

The court heard Mrs Pilcher kept a ‘diary of incidents’ and recorded some of her neighbour’s antics on CCTV.

Her lawyer told the judge: ‘The cumulative stress of these incidents caused her to seek psychological help and undertake cognitive behavioural therapy.

‘The claimant has been left feeling like a prisoner in her own home, frightened of how Mrs Williams will react to any action, having to hide from her and with her family reluctant to visit her.

‘It is submitted that Mrs Williams’ actions clearly amount to harassment when taken together as a course of conduct.’

Neil Vickery, speaking for Mrs Williams, argued the key issues in the case have already been resolved and hoped the remaining issues ‘would not have been pursued through court proceedings’.

‘But Mrs Pilcher has not been deterred,’ he added.

He branded Mrs Pilcher’s claims ‘trivial’, dismissing them as a ‘regrettable and ridiculously expensive piece of litigation’.

‘Mrs Williams does not know what Mrs Pilcher’s costs are, but it seems unlikely that they are less than £200,000,’ he added.

‘To seek to elevate irritation between neighbours into a case of harassment is wrong and inappropriate.’

The trial continues.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *