Pensioner arrested for 'theft' of grass

Emma Woollacott
Valerie Vivian digging up the grass
Valerie Vivian digging up the grass

A 70-year-old Somerset woman has been arrested for 'stealing grass' in a long-running battle over a communal lawn.

Valerie Vivian, of Bathhampton, first got in trouble with her neighbours when she laid a 150-foot gravel path across the communal garden in the cul-de-sac where she rents her home.

The path led to a plot of land where Mrs Vivian was hoping to build houses - although her six planning applications have all been refused.

The local council agreed that the path was out of place and ordered it to be removed - but because it was the other neighbours that owned the land, they were stuck with the cost of repair.

However, after the path was removed and new turf laid late last month, Mrs Vivian refused to accept the change. And, over the weekend, she and a younger man were spotted digging up the newly-laid turf with a trowel.

"She was ripping the grass out and dropping each piece in a bag and taking the bag when it was full and dumping it on her land," one resident tells the Daily Mail.

"Before we managed to stop her she had undone about 20 per cent of the damage that we had resurfaced. It is just absolutely appalling and pathetic."

The police were called and Mrs Vivian and the man were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage - and of the theft of the grass.

It's a risky business messing around with communal land - even if all the neighbours agree that you've done a good thing. Earlier this year, for example, Preston pensioner Jan Imani Rad was given a suspended prison sentence after spending £6,000 planting up the area outside the block of flats where he lives.

Similarly, a Cheshire couple was ordered to remove the flowers they'd planted on the grass verge outside their home and reinstate the grass - although the council later worked out a compromise.

Even trimming a hedge that doesn't belong to you can land you in big trouble. This summer, for example, 81-year-old David Tolhurst, of Edwardstone in Sussex, was told off by police for 'vandalism' after trimming three twigs from his neighbour's hedge in order to improve road visibility.