Couple try to get neighbour sectioned in garden row


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We all know that arguments with neighbours can get out of hand, but things reached a whole new level in a row over a garden in Westerham, Kent. A couple have been found guilty of harassing their neighbour in an effort to add a 12 inch strip to their garden.

They went to some shocking lengths, so is this the oddest neighbourly row over land?

The case

Betty Bayliss lived next door to 69-year old deaf carer Sandra Saxton. When Betty went into care in 2008, her home fell to her son Peter, a 62-year-old retired banker, and his wife Kim, a 53-year-old artist.

Saxton had a right of way across a 12 inch strip of their garden, but they wanted to increase the size of their garden, and stop her from exercising her right of way, to make it easier for them to sell their property.

The neighbours went to court over the issue in 2009, and after the court sided with Saxton, the couple went to extraordinary lengths to drive the pensioner off their land.

According to the Evening Standard, the court heard there was a physical confrontation between Peter Bayliss and Saxton as she tried to use her right of way in 2009, during which she suffered whiplash.

The Daily Mail reported that the couple then wrote a series of letters to social services, falsely claiming that Saxton had attacked Peter Bayliss, and should be sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

The judge said their actions were 'troubling and sinister', adding: "The purpose of the letters were to get Mrs Saxton sectioned, to get her removed from her home so she could no longer exercise her right of way and maintain her boundary fence, leaving the way open for the Baylisses to sell, free of any adverse rights."

On another occasion the couple glued the gate shut, and after the neighbours rowed about it, they falsely reported her to police for assault. According to the Express, the judge said: "The campaign combined physical obstruction and assault with direct and indirect mental manipulation and abuse designed to destabilise Mrs Saxton and turn her neighbours against her."

He ruled that they should pay the costs of the case - an estimated £300,000. They must also pay Saxton £25,000 damages for harassment, £1,750 for nuisance, and £10,000 exemplary damages. Mr Bayliss must also pay £2,000 for assault.

Neighbours at war

It's a horrible case, but it's far from the only row between neighbours that has spiraled out of control.

In November last year we reported the case of neighbours in Tilehurst near Reading who had spent 20 years and £100,000 fighting over ownership of a strip of land, four inches wide.

Earlier, a dispute in Broxbourne Common in Hertfordshire erupted because planners had used a thick pen to mark out a boundary, and the neighbours disagreed over who owned the land under the pen. The area was a metre wide, and the legal row cost £400,000.

Meanwhile, in Cheltenham there was a case in 2009, when neighbours argued over a six metre square of land. Their combined bill reached £150,000 - far in excess of the value of the land.

And it's not just the neighbours you have to worry about. Last month we reported on the council that spent £14,000 trying to force a couple to replace a fence - which had a gate leading into a public park. Despite the fact that the couple had a right of way written in the deeds of their house, the council even built a fence to block the gate, and spent thousands on legal fees before backing down.

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