Woman accused of breaching restraining order denies offensive gesture

A woman banned from harassing her next-door neighbours has denied breaching a restraining order by shouting and raising her middle finger.

Claire Anderson, 54, is on trial alongside her partner Desmond Hughes, 70, accused of defying the order banning them from contacting Nick Hancock, his wife Linda and their daughter Talia, 22.

Newport Crown Court has heard the alleged incidents took place in March and September last year in Began Road, Old St Mellons, Cardiff.

The two defendants are subjects of an indefinite restraining order imposed by Cardiff Magistrates' Court in July 2013 after being convicted of harassing the Hancock family.

Anderson denies a single charge of breaching a restraining order by allegedly shouting at Mr Hancock and rudely gesticulating at him as he mowed his lawn.

Her partner denies three similar charges in which he is accused of "intimidating" Mrs Hancock by staring at her in the street, swearing at her husband as he cut the grass and taking photographs of their home.

Hughes was found not guilty of a fourth charge on the direction of the judge.

Giving evidence, Anderson denied the incident with Mr Hancock happened, insisting she had not spoken to either him or his wife since 2012.

Gareth Morley, defending, asked her: "Did you raise your middle finger in what might be considered an offensive way?"

She replied: "No."

Anderson, who works part-time as an administrator, explained she had not shouted at Mr Hancock or gesticulated at him and what he had seen was a gardening glove placed on top of a wooden stake.

She told the court: "I simply took the one glove that was wet and put it onto a stake, so it was at eye level, so I wouldn't leave it in the garden and then I could retrieve it and take it inside when I had finished.

"The glove was dirty so I didn't want to put it in my pocket."

She added: "It wasn't a conscious decision, I just put it on the stake."

Anderson told the jury that the earlier alleged incident between her partner and Mrs Hancock outside in the street also did not happen.

The court has previously heard that Hughes insists the pictures had been taken inside his home by his elderly widowed neighbour and his Slovakian gardener at the behest of a chartered building control surveyor called Richard Phelps.

The court also heard that Hughes has been previously convicted in 2014 of three charges of breaching the restraining order.

Mr and Mrs Hancock, who moved into their home in 2011, have previously told the jury of their frustration at living next door to the defendants - saying they had been subjects of complaints to the local council about fly tipping, their trampoline and a garden shed.

The jury has retired to consider its verdicts.

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