A 78-year-old pensioner’s continued campaign of anti-social behaviour against a neighbour has seen her handed a suspended prison sentence.
Kathleen Neal, of Park Lane, Castle Donington, has been taken to court by North West Leicestershire District Council, supported by Leicestershire Police, on numerous occasions since 2015 for persistently harassing neighbour Susan Brookes, often spraying weed killer through a fence onto the plants next door.
An initial injunction placed on Neal in 2016 failed to change her behaviour. This was followed by financial penalties, including a £3,500 fine issued in August 2017, along with the threat of jail for any future offences.
However, within two weeks of the last judgement, Neal continued her unacceptable behaviour and admitted breaching her injunction six times in the following two months; often being caught red-handed spraying weedkiller through the fence by her neighbours’ CCTV camera.
Neal appeared in Nottingham Magistrates’ Court on Friday 23 February to plead guilty to six breaches stating that she had now ‘learned her lesson’ and would not offend again.
Judge Robert Owen QC responded by handing Neal an eight-month jail sentence suspended for 12 months, and ordering her to pay costs of £3,375. Judge Owen added that this was Neal’s ‘last opportunity to see sense and desist’.
Neal has made national headlines in the past when a court heard how she tormented her neighbours by harassing them, trespassing on their property, deliberately lighting smoky bonfires in her garden, as well as her trademark weedkiller spraying tactics.
The catalogue of complaints included a campaign of silent phone calls made from an unregistered ‘pay as you go’ mobile phone that had been ongoing for a number of years.
The punishments have been steadily increasing in severity as her court appearances mount.
Susan Brookes, the victim of Neal’s crimes, said: "During the last 15 years Kathleen Neal has been relentless in her quest to make our life as stressful and uncomfortable as possible and it felt like her aim has always been to drive us out of our home.
"Mrs Neal has had so many chances to review her actions and all we have ever asked is that she simply stops her awful behaviour. Unfortunately she has carried on despite many warnings from the authorities.
"We hope now finally that the real threat of her going to prison for eight months will make Mrs Neal see sense and bring all of this horrible torment to an end. We would like to thank the team at NWLDC and the local beat team at Leicestershire Police for helping to bring Kathleen Neal to justice."
Councillor Trevor Pendleton, Chair of Safer North West Leicestershire Partnership said: “Once again we have shown no hesitation in taking Neal back to court as she refuses to stop the ongoing unacceptable anti-social behaviour against her neighbour.
“No-one should be subjected to this kind of behaviour in their own home, and we will continue to support the victim should Neal continue. We welcome the latest sentence, and hope that this very real threat of jail has the desired effect.”
Leicestershire Police Inspector Helena Bhakta said: “Leicestershire Police are pleased to see that the court has recognised the serious impact this case has had on the victims of this anti-social behaviour and hope that this sentence sends a clear message that we will not tolerate those that perpetrate anti-social behaviour. We will continue to work as part of a strong partnership to investigate and deal robustly with those who think it is acceptable to behave in an anti-social manner and to support those who are victims of such behaviour.”
Picture: CCTV image from the victim's house showing Kathleen Neal behind the fence about to spray weedkiller through it.