Pensioner who used plants and CCTV to harass her neighbour could face jail time

PUBLISHED: 15:31 06 August 2019 | UPDATED: 15:31 06 August 2019

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant


A pensioner who filmed her neighbour's home and blocked his window with a giant plant has been found guilty of making his life a misery.

Mary de Jong ran a three-year campaign of hate against her neighbour because of a dispute about a right of way over a courtyard behind their homes.

The pair live next door to each other in two terraced cottages in Topsham.

The 68-year-old, of White Street, denied two counts of breaking a restraining order between October 2017 and June 2018 but was found guilty by the jury at Exeter Crown Court on Tuesday (August 6).

Judge Peter Johnson adjourned her sentence for a probation report but warned her he is considering a prison sentence.

He continued the restraining order.

Judge Peter Johnson told De Jong he would be impressed if at the next hearing, there were photos of a 'very different looking' courtyard with less foliage.

The feud started when the victim took the side of another neighbour in a dispute over ownership and rights of way on the courtyard in White Street.

De Jong, aged 68, banned the victim from crossing the courtyard, preventing him from using his back door.

She grew a large shrub which covered her neighbour's kitchen window and aimed a camera at his home from the roof of her garden shed to watch his back door.

De Jong was made subject of a restraining order by Exeter magistrates in October 2017, which was confirmed by Exeter Crown Court in March 2018 and forbade her from targeting his home with the camera or obstructing his windows with plants.

She trimmed back the plant but broke the order by leaving a branch stump which prevented Mr Johnston opening his window by more than a few centimetres. Foliage also blocked some light from the window.

De Jong also left the camera on her shed, but claimed it was no longer pointing at her neighbour's window or doors.

Judge Peter Johnson said: "This has been a long running sore.

"The starting point might be a custodial sentence.

"There seems to have been a long running dispute with the neighbours which has now crossed the criminal Rubicon.

"Actions speak louder than words and I would be rather more impressed if I saw photographs at the next hearing of a very different looking courtyard with much reduced foliage."

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