A PENSIONER has been hit with a £30,000 court bill after blocking a drive with pot plants during a ten-year war with her next-door neighbour.
Retired taxi driver Yvonne Rogers, 72, has been slapped with the hefty penalty after being sued by grandmother Janice Wright over their shared-drive rivalry.
The two have since been squabbling in ten year dispute over the issue, as infuriated Janice complained that the pots and overgrown foliage block her right of way over the driveway.
Mrs Wright also claims it makes it hard for her to push her grandkid’s buggy to her house.
The neighbours’ have been locked in a ding-dong legal battle over their shared driveway, with each owning half of its width but having a right of way over it all.
For neighbours disputing the boundary of their property, it is recommended that they enlist a surveyor to draw up a detailed plan which both parties can sign and submit to the Land Registry.
Solicitors can also act as a mediator for quarrelling neighbours, with court action advised only as a last resort.
Now, following the decade-long rivalry that saw Janice take her neighbour to court, Yvonne faces a £30,000 legal bill after losing the case.
Ms Rogers was also slapped with a suspended jail term after ignoring a court order to get her pot plants off the drive.
Alongside the pesky plants, she also positioned her wheelie bins and garden ornaments along the drive, and allowed trees and plants to grow from her side and overhang the driveway.
Exasperated after years of to-and-fro, Mrs Wright first dragged her neighbour to Winchester County Court last year.
She won an injunction ordering Ms Rogers to clear the obstruction, but she failed to do so.
This led her to be hauled back to court again in June this year, when she was found in contempt of court by Judge Michael Berkley.
In his ruling, he said Ms Rogers had not only denied encroaching on the right of way, but also claimed her neighbour was trying to force her out of her home so she could buy it cheap.
“I accept that it is distressing for Mrs Wright to have to live next door to Ms Rogers in these circumstances,” he said.
“Mrs Wright explained to me, not only is this an encroachment of her right of way, there are also actual practical difficulties that are caused.
“First, moving her wheelie bins to the front for refuse collections, and secondly getting her granddaughter’s pushchair up and down the drive is made difficult because the concrete part of the driveway cannot be used by virtue of the encroachment.
“So this is not just a question of the court order being disobeyed, it is actually a matter of personal inconvenience to Ms Wright and her family.”
He added: “I take into account the fact that Mrs Wright has clearly had this right of way being interfered with for quite some time.
“By the extent of the foliage that has been allowed to grow up, one might say that Mrs Wright has indeed been very indulgent to Ms Rogers over the years.”
Her response to the court proceedings had been to not turn up and instead send a string of emails, seeking to “threaten, demean and accuse” those involved, including Mrs Wright, he said.
“The conduct which the defendant has chosen to engage with this matter has been conduct which has brought severe distress, worry, fear, and expense to Mrs Wright,” the judge added.
In September, he sentenced her to six months’ imprisonment for ignoring the injunction.
But appealing to have the sentence overturned last week, Ms Rogers’ barrister John King said she had removed the pots after the hearing in June and would now cut back the bushes.
He said she also suffers “severe underlying” health issues and now plans to leave the street in order to put the dispute behind her.
He added that the duo’s rivalry had “been allowed to spin out of control”, and said the conflict had consequences for Ms Rogers’ mental and “already fragile” physical health”.
Lord Justice Stuart-Smith said the court would give a full ruling on the sentence appeal at a later date, but would be suspending Ms Rogers’ sentence so she does not go to jail.
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