'Vindictive' gardener forced to pay £250,000 after neighbour is stung by wasps attracted by rotting apples

'Vindictive' gardener forced to pay £250,000 after neighbour is stung by wasps attracted by rotting apples

A "VINDICTIVE" gardener has been forced to pay £250,000 after a neighbour was stung by wasps attracted by rotting apples.

"School bully" Antoinette Williams was sued by her neighbour Barbara Pilcher after the former's 40-foot Bramley apple tree dropped hundreds of rotting apples into her next door's garden each year in Surrey.

Barbara took Antoinette to court claiming the apples put her at risk of wasp stings as countless insects flocked to the fruit.

She also accused Barbara – a member of the Dunsfold and Hascombe Horticultural Society – of “creepy” harassment.

She claims the neighbour plagued her by repeatedly staring at her through her windows, failing to prune the apple tree and by keeping a large smelly compost bin at the bottom of her garden adjoining her own property.

Barbara's barrister said the claimant felt like "a prisoner in her own home" while family members stopped going to visit as the feud with her neighbour intensified.

She also accused Antoinette of repeatedly peering in through her windows, “monitoring” her comings and goings and even following her neighbours' relatives after they had visited.

Following a five-day trial, Judge Lawrence Cohen QC ruled in favour of Mrs Pilcher, comparing the gardener to a "school bully" for her "disgraceful" behaviour and hitting her with a costs and damages bill of around £250,000.

Antoinette moved into £600,000 Frensham Cottage, in Dunsfold, near Godalming, almost 40 years ago.

Barbara bought the adjoining three-bedroom £500,000 Farleigh Cottage in 2010.

The pair first clashed in 2014 over the fruit from the tree falling over the fence – and Antoinette refused to cut it back, the court heard.

Barbara took matters into her own hands and cut the tree herself – resulting in "a barrage of allegations" from Antoinette.

The latter claimed she had cut the tree at an inappropriate time, cut it back too far and had caused a poor harvest," he said.

Judge Cohen awarded Barbara £12,000 compensation for seven years of harassment and Antoinette agreed to have the tree professionally pruned.

He added: “There is strong evidence of Mrs Williams behaving in a vindictive way towards Mrs Pilcher deliberately to alarm and distress her and that she is lacking in self control.

“I have not found Mrs Williams to be a reliable witness."

"[Barbara] dreads coming home, her daughter does not want to stay with her anymore and other young family members either do not want to visit her or, if they are brought to visit, need to be sheltered from the offensive conduct."

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