Jury convicts woman of setting a ‘tripwire’

Janet Pearson, 58, has been convicted of setting a tripwire that sent her neighbour tumbling down two flights of stairs.
Janet Pearson, 58, has been convicted of setting a tripwire that sent her neighbour tumbling down two flights of stairs.
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A woman has been convicted of setting a tripwire in a block of flats that sent her neighbour tumbling down two flights of stairs following a dispute over a cupboard.

A jury took three hours and 25 minutes to convict 58-year-old Janet Pearson of setting the trap, which caused her neighbour to fall down a stairwell.

Pearson, 58, of Clifton Drive, Lytham, denied deliberately stretching the wire from a handrail outside her flat.

Pearson showed no emotion as the jury at Preston Crown Court delivered a majority verdict yesterday but gasps could be heard from the public gallery.

She denied assaulting her neighbour causing actual bodily harm but was convicted after a two day trial.

Judge Raj Shetty warned her: “This incident could have caused more significant injuries than actually suffered by the victim.

“She potentially faces a custodial sentence.”

Pearson will be sentenced on February 5.

Pearson had insisted she had no reason to set a tripwire.

The neighbour needed surgery after careering down the stairwell and injuring her face, neck and back, in the incident on January 21, 2013.

Pearson told the court she had been forced to use temporary lighting in a shared hallway when communal lighting was not working.

During the Christmas period she had fixed a cluster of fairy lights to the outside of her flat’s front door.

The lights were powered by a cable that she had tied around the bannister then run under her front door and plugged in inside the flat.

Shortly after Christmas, the fairy lights were swapped for another set of lights which she operated in the same way.

Pearson told the court: “The electricity switches that power the lights and the intercom are in my neighbour’s flat.

“They were on when she was here and off when she was not.

“The communal light had not been working for at least seven months.

“It was very dark in the hallway and it was very difficult negotiating the stairwell.”

Pearson told the court she walks with a stick after a knee operation went wrong.

Pearson added: “On the night before the 21st, I was in my apartment on the telephone and I saw that my neighbour had arrived home with another person who I took to be her son.

“Outside my flat I could hear they were whispering, I was very annoyed actually and I mentioned it to the person I was speaking to on the phone.

“I went out to have a look outside the door.

“I noticed that the new light had been cut off. The wire had been severed.

“The lights were still up but someone had snipped the wire. It was still wrapped round the bannister but had been cut just below the light switch.

“I went back in my flat and sat and thought about it. After a short while I reported it to the management committee.

“When the policeman arrived the following morning to speak to me, he asked if it was my wire and asked about a gentleman who had stayed with me in the past.

“He didn’t tell me that my neighbour had fallen down the stairs. I wanted to show him what the wire was for and show him the lights had been cut off.”

Kimberley Obrusik, prosecuting, giving evidence on Thursday, said: “She tied the wire around the bannister and she knew one of the two people from the flat above could fall.”

Brian Williams, defending, said: “If this was a trap it was a pretty rubbish one.

“Mrs Pearson is not a stupid person. Who but a fool sets a trap for someone that could be traced directly back to them? Mrs Pearson is 58, has never been in trouble before and is a businesswoman who has run a rest home.”

Mr Williams added: “It doesn’t make sense at all.”