How playing Ed Sheeran can land you in jail

Cape Verdean woman listening to vinyl record

A woman has been jailed for the second time for torturing her neighbours by playing an Ed Sheeran song on repeat.

Sonia Bryce, a mother of three from Wallsall, played the ballad 'Shape of You', at top volume for half an hour. It was, says neighbour Clare Tidmarsh, 'the straw that broke the camel's back'.

Months of loud music, shouting, swearing and banging had already put Bryce in jail once - but after her six-week sentence the noise started up again. Miss Tidmarsh says in the end she was forced to move out and rent out her home.

Wealthy neighbour from hell gets her comeuppance

Jailing Bryce for eight weeks, Judge Gregory commented: "Everybody is entitled to live in a degree of peace and quiet with the usual give and take of society, but you do not behave like a civilised person, and you have got to learn that you will."

So what does and does not count as unreasonable noise?

Music becomes a statutory nuisance if it will 'unreasonably and substantially interfere with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises' or 'injure health or be likely to injure health'.

Why has local postie refused to deliver to this cul-de-sac?

At night - from 11pm to 7am - the council can issue warning notices if the noise inside a neighbour's house is higher than a certain decibel level, relating to the normal level of background noise. If it continues, there's a £110 fine.

Last year, research from law firm Slater and Gordon revealed that a third of homeowners are regularly annoyed by noise from their neighbours, with lawn mowing, TV and loud music the commonest problems.

You can report a noise nuisance to your local council through a government website, here.

Daniel Craig falls out with neighbours over 50-metre tree

However, allegations of unreasonable noise don't always go the complainant's way.

This week, a court heard how a millionaire couple had falsely accused a neighbour of death threats because he was singing the Jimi Hendrix song Hey Joe - containing the line: "I'm goin' down to shoot my old lady."

Acupuncture therapist Terry Simou spent seven hours locked up at a police station before being released after only ten minutes of questioning - when he explained that he sang in a pub band.

The accusation was just part of a ten-year campaign that led to the conviction of Michael and Hazell Salliss for harassment. And although they're challenging that at a court of appeal, they're believed to be facing a £500,000 legal bill.

Nightmare neighbours
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Nightmare neighbours

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.


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