A couple who hoped to enjoy their retirement in the relative peace of a quiet cul-de-sac have told of the “harrowing” experience of being tormented by a neighbour for 14 years.
Mavis and Alan Ward were offered some hope of justice on Monday when a judge issued a warrant for the arrest of their next-door neighbour Kirsty Robertson.
Blackpool Magistrates Court heard how the couple, in their late 60s, have had slates thrown at their home, been subjected to foul mouthed tirades of abuse and been threatened by the woman.
Robertson, 46, of Leaway Close, Thornton, did not attend court. It was the eighth hearing of the case.
But in her absence, District Judge Andrew Pascoe said she would be arrested and was later made subject to a restraining order after he said the couple had successfully proved they had been harassed by Robertson.
The Wards said the decision came as a “relief”.
Mrs Ward said: “I am relieved. We’ve been like this for so long and been through so much stress and anxiety. It’s been harrowing.
“When we retired we looked forward to doing the garden and going for walks but we’ve been too scared to do all that. I’m pleased it was dealt with without her being there. She’s missed other hearings.
“It shows contempt for the court system.”
Robertson has previously been given a restraining order, banning her from entering the curtilage of the Wards’ home.
But they have fought for years for this to be strengthened, having endured barrages of verbal abuse and having objects launched at their home.
The court heard difficulties started 14 years ago when Robertson moved in and painted part of the Wards’ home white – because she did not like the sandstone colour they had used.
The couple have had panic alarms fitted in their home.
But they have never considered moving, saying they will not be forced out of their home of 27 years, which is specially equipped to be accessible to allow for Mrs Ward’s sight problems.
Instead, their family, including sons David, 38, and Dean, 35, have spent more than £1,000 making their home more secure in recent years, including £400 on CCTV and £200 on gates.
Mrs Ward said: “It’s been horrendous but hopefully things will settle down now.
“I’ve tried to be strong through it but it’s been so frightening.”
District Judge Pascoe said: “This has been going on for 14 years and culminated in the graphic gesture to Mrs Ward by Robertson with her hand in a cutting movement and the threat that she should be dead.
“There has been a course of action which is harassment and may be I have only heard the tip of the iceberg.”
The judge issued the warrant for Robertson’s arrest after finding the case proved and said a restraining order would have to be issued.