Pensioner ‘harassed neighbour with potted plant and CCTV cameras’ a court hears

PUBLISHED: 13:18 05 August 2019

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant


A pensioner has gone on trial accused of making her neighbour’s life a misery by pointing cameras into his home and growing a bamboo plant in front of his kitchen window.

Mary de Jong allegedly acted out of spite because of a long running dispute with a neighbour, whose cottage is next to her own property in Topsham.

They fell out because the only access to her neighbour's back door is through a courtyard owned by De Jong, leading to a feud which has lasted years.

De Jong was made subject to a restraining order in October 2017 which forbade her from obstructing his window or filming his house and allegedly broke it over the next eight months.

On Monday, August 5, the jury at Exeter Crown Court was shown photos taken by her neighbour showing the plant blocking his downstairs kitchen window and a camera on another bush.

De Jong, aged 68, of White Street, Topsham, denies two counts of breaching a restraining order.

Lee Bremridge, prosecuting, said the idea of living in a cottage in the pretty town of Topsham should have been idyllic but it had not proved so for the victim.

He said: "It is hard to imagine anywhere more serene or idyllic to live, unless, of course, you live next to Mary de Jong.

"For months, she harassed her neighbour with a potted plant and CCTV cameras, directed at his windows and snooping on him.

"The plant was grown across his window, blocking the light and stopping him from opening it fully."

Mr Bremridge said the victim tried to deal with things reasonably and amicably, asking her to cut the plant and remove the camera.

He said: "In October 2017 the criminal courts became involved and made a restraining order.

"You might have thought that would have done the trick. Not so."

Mr Bremridge said the victim had lived in one of a row of four cottages for 12 years and De Jong bought number 35 next door in around 2012.

They had got on well initially but a dispute had developed over a courtyard behind the two houses which is owned by De Jong.

The trial continues.

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