Injunction granted over neighbour harassmentPublished Friday, 26th October 2018
Community safety chiefs in Hartlepool have secured an injunction against a woman who subjected her neighbours to years of harassment.
The injunction was granted against Susan French, 57, of Portmadoc Walk, Hartlepool, by a judge at Teesside County Court following a two-and-a-half year investigation involving several thousand hours of work by staff from the Hartlepool Community Safety Team.
It runs for two years, from 24th October 2018 until 24th October 2020, and any breach would be civil contempt of court punishable with an unlimited fine or imprisonment of up to 2 years.
The injunction – granted under the terms of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 – orders that Ms French must not:
· Use threatening, abusive or intimidating language or behaviour towards another.
· Behave in a manner likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
· Behave in a manner likely to cause nuisance or annoyance to a person at the place of residence.
· Encourage others to do any of the acts identified above.
· Direct and/or use any audio or visual recording device towards any person at their place of residence or in the vicinity of their place of residence.
The judge also ordered her to pay costs of up to £16,035, although the exact amount is still to be finalised.
Nicholas Stone from the Hartlepool Community Safety Team said: “Ms French carried a sustained campaign of harassment against her neighbours in Portmadoc Walk. The persistent false and malicious complaints she made caused enormous distress, fear and intimidation to more than 20 people, including children.
“The harassment also extended to other members of the public and included her targeting professional officers – both Council and police officers – with claims of misconduct.”
In court, the judge discounted Ms French’s claims of physical and mental disability and ruled that she had engaged in the following harassing behaviour:
· Verbal abuse, including threats to members of the public.
· Screaming, shouting and swearing at members of the public.
· Making rude hand gestures to members of the public.
· Taking videos and photographs to harass residents and their very young children.
· Making false and malicious allegations to victims’ employers and housing providers, child protection officials, Cleveland Police, the RSPCA, benefit fraud officials and the Council.
· Throwing stones at her neighbours’ properties.
· Throwing litter and dog faeces.
· Pouring an unknown powder onto a neighbour’s garden plants.
In his summing up, he said he found the evidence provided by the Hartlepool Community Safety Team to be both clear and believable.
Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, Chair of the Safer Hartlepool Partnership and Leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “I would like to thank the numerous victims of Ms French’s harassment and the witnesses who were prepared to come forward and provide the evidence that enabled the Hartlepool Community Safety Team to bring this matter to court.
“All of the staff involved in this case also deserve huge praise for their excellent work over such a prolonged period of time. It was their dedication, commitment and determination that ultimately brought this matter to such a successful conclusion.
“I hope this case sends out a clear message to others that anti-social behaviour will simply not be tolerated in Hartlepool.”