A couple accused of harassing their neighbour over a dispute about the appropriate use of a communal play area have appeared in court.
Lord Christopher Leathers and Lady Maria Leathers, aged 71, of Daisy Avenue, on Moreton Hall, saw the case against them thrown out on Monday after magistrates ruled evidence against them was not ‘consistent or reliable enough’.
They were accused of harassing neighbour Nathalie Blackmore, between April 2 and June 25 last year in the case of Lord Leathers, and, for Lady Leathers, between April 2 and June 28 last year. Both had previously pleaded not-guilty.
Prosecuting at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court, Anne Grey outlined a number of incidents in which Mrs Blackmore alleged she had felt threatened by the Leathers.
Mrs Blackmore said, on April 2, Lady Leathers had shouted at a friend who was visiting and told her three-year-old son to get off of his bike.
Asked how Leathers had reacted to being told that restrictions on bikes only applied to residents, Mrs Blackmore said: “Very angrily. She was pointing her finger at me and shouting at my friend.”
Mrs Blackmore said she was left crying and ‘shaking like a leaf’ after a similar altercation on June 27, when the same friend had visited with her three-year-old son and a four-year-old boy she was child-minding for. Both had been on bikes.
She told the court she had seen Lord Leathers watching her son play, on May 21 from a bench ‘bang smack in the middle of a water fight’ organised by her neighbour’s daughter and on May 29 as he played on his scooter.
“It made me feel annoyed, upset and quite sick to be honest,” she said.
In mitigation, Matthew Mcniff said there was a covenant in the deeds to homes in Daisy Avenue which prohibited certain activity on a communal area of land set aside for ‘quiet recreational purposes’.
These, he said, included parking or riding a motor vehicle or bicycle or allowing one to be parked or ridden.
He said Lord Leathers was entitled to sit in a public place to enjoy the afternoon sun and was entitled to look at something causing noise, as he suggested the scooter used with ramps had done.
He suggested that Mrs Blackmore had exaggerated Lady Leathers’ behaviour and had not felt threatened by her. He said Leathers was a person of previous good character and that no-cycling signs displayed in the area supported her interpretation of the covenant.