Police warning for professor who cut three twigs from neighbour's hedge

Mr Tolhurst outside his home.

A retired professor and plastic surgeon has been ticked off by police for snipping three small twigs from a neighbour's hedge.

David Tolhurst, 81, had put up a convex safety mirror on the blind corner where he lives in Edwardstone, Sussex. He was hoping to improve visibility after his late wife, Sonia, had her car written off while reversing out of the drive in 2014.

Mr Tolhurst, a fellow of Harvard University who practised at Great Ormond Street Hospital, originally sited it on a nearby telegraph pole - until a neighbour complained.

"I was instructed by a Highways engineer to take down the mirror," he tells the Daily Telegraph.

"I told them I was not going to take such nonsense because I was only concerned about safety. You see hundreds of mirrors around the county so I was surprised to be targeted. It seemed petty and ridiculous."

In an attempt to resolve the issue, Mr Tolhurst moved the mirror to the hedge dividing two properties across the road. But while he had permission from one of the owners of the hedge, the other objected after he trimmed the hedge a little to improve visibility.

"The hedge grew up so I trimmed away three little twigs and some ivy," he says. "Two policemen in a very large van turned up to tell me off for 'vandalising the property of a neighbour'. I told them I am not a vandal and they seemed awfully sorry, but they reminded of the statutory requirements that I must not interfere with the property of other people."

Safety mirrors on public land need permission from the Department of Transport, but are given approval only rarely: they are seen as running the risk of being misleading at night, when headlights are reflected, as well as creating glare during the day.

A local council may support an application for a safety mirror in a rural area where there's a high speed limit, near-zero visibility and nothing else that can be done.

Mr Tolhurst has now found a third spot to put the mirror - and it's on his own property, this time.

Police Release Hard-Hitting Footage of Fatal Collision

Nightmare neighbours
See Gallery
Police warning for professor who cut three twigs from neighbour's hedge

Gerard and Christina White from Moseley in Birmingham hit the headlines in September last year, when their neighbour ignored his planning permission, and built so close to their house that they said it effectively turned their detached property into a semi-detached one.

Despite the fact it left them unable to maintain the side of their property, the council washed their hands of the case, and said the couple would have to take private legal action if they wanted the extension to be pulled down.

Helen Coughlan, a 52-year-old carer from Woodford Bridge in north east London, was stunned when her neighbours built an extension just 24 inches from her window - completely obscuring her view.

Despite the fact she says it took £100,000 off the value of the home, and rendered it unsellable, the council said it could do nothing to force the demolition of the new extension.

In 2013, a row that had been rumbling for 17 years finally came to court. One of the neighbours had planted eight conifer trees in his front garden, and ignored repeated requests to cut them back to allow natural light into his neighbour’s home.

He was eventually forced to by a court - after the trees had caused a crack to appear in his neighbour’s wall.

Wendy and Paul Collins from Brownhills in the West Midlands watched in horror as their neighbours erected a six foot fence at the bottom of their front garden, blocking their front gate and leaving their car stranded on their front lawn.

Their home faces onto a car park serving a block of flats, and the owners of the flats erected the fence to stop the couple driving through the car park in order to park on their front lawn. The couple can still access their house through the back - and have a drive round the other side of the house - unfortunately their car is stuck on the lawn.

A Michigan man who had been through a bitter divorce, decided to get his revenge on his ex-wife by moving in next door.

As soon as he had moved in, he erected a 12 foot statue in the front garden, of a hand giving the finger. The statue is even lit up at night.

In May last year, Steven and Fiona Young from Blawith were ordered to pay their neighbours, Peter and Lesley Raymond, £600,000, after a campaign of harassment.

The Youngs had lived in a large farmhouse, but decades earlier sold up and moved to a smaller property next door. The Raymonds moved into the farmhouse and the Youngs became nightmare neighbours.

They piled rubbish in the garden, damaged fences, let animals foul their garden, and rode quad bikes over the grounds. When the Raymonds installed CCTV, Mr Young mooned them, and then painted over them.

The Raymonds sued for harassment, trespass, nuisance, assault and slander - and were awarded £200,000. The Youngs also had to pay £400,000 costs.


Read Full Story