Nightmare neighbour fined for harassing neighbours
A Gateshead woman has been fined more than £1,700 for her anti-social behaviour towards her neighbours.
Debra Watt of Caris Street in Gateshead sent neighbours threatening letters, caused one neighbour to be falsely arrested, and repeatedly made unfounded complaints about them to their landlord, to the Council and to Northumbria Police.
She also shouted and swore at neighbours, filmed them and sent footage of them to their landlord. She threatened legal action against her neighbours, and persistently requested that one neighbour be evicted from their home.
Eventually, neighbours contacted Gateshead Council's Private Sector Housing Team for help, stating that she and the frequent Police presence that she caused made them feel harassed and worried.
Team members warned Ms Watt about her behaviour and tried to resolve the issue before serving her with a Community Protection Notice. Continued attempts to encourage Ms Watt to change her behaviour then followed and all failed. By this time, Ms Watt was targeting Council officers with allegations of harassment and threats of legal action.
Ms Watt was subsequently charged with failing to comply with a Community Protection Notice and causing harassment, alarm and distress to her neighbours. The case was heard at Gateshead Magistrates' Court this Wednesday (9 October) with Council officers, neighbours, the landlord and Police Officers giving evidence in court.
Ms Watt failed to attend court and the prosecution case was heard in her absence.
Magistrates accepted that the she had ignored the many warnings issued to her by Gateshead Council and were shocked to read the persistent correspondence that she had sent to neighbours without reason. They found the case was proven and fined Debra £770, a £77 victim surcharge £700 costs and £200 compensation to be paid to an affected neighbour.
Angela Douglas, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety at Gateshead Council, says:
"Repeatedly breaching a Community Protection Notice served under the Anti Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 is a serious matter. The Act is there to protect ordinary people and in this case Debra Watt's neighbours clearly needed the protection of the law.
"Residents have the right to live peacefully in their own homes, free from disturbances or harassment. In this case, Debra had plenty of opportunity to change her behaviour but chose not to. I'm pleased the magistrates have taken such a firm stance."