Woman, who was ‘prisoner in her own home’, abused neighbours over garden fence

NEWS from Nottingham Magistrates' Court.
NEWS from Nottingham Magistrates' Court.

Frustrated by a lifestyle as “a prisoner in her own home”, a 55-year-old Eastwood woman took it out on her next-door neighbours, a court heard.

Christine Betts, of Salcombe Close, Newthorpe, got drunk and spewed verbal abuse at the neighbours, the Jeffs family, over the garden fence.

But her behaviour was in breach of a restraining order that had been imposed on her the previous year for harassing the family, Nottingham Magistrates’ Court was told. So she was arrested and hauled before magistrates again.

The offences arose from Betts’s “tragic personal circumstances”, said her solicitor, Emma Eardley, mitigating.

“She separated from her husband five years ago, but he refused to end the relationship formally and she didn’t feel strong enough to do so,” said Miss Eardley.

“As a result, they still live together, although they lead separate lives.

“She is like a prisoner in her own home and also has severe health difficulties, including acute problems with her back, which are getting worse.

“The relationship with her husband has been abusive, sometimes physical, in the past. He ignores her at home and even when he sees her out in the street.

“When he insisted on maintaining his friendship with their next-door neighbours, she felt they were ganging up on her. She felt isolated and so it was no surprise that she turned to drink.”

Betts pleaded guilty to shouting abuse at Alison and Miles Jeffs in breach of a restraining order on four occasions last year between Thursday, June 25 and Monday, September 28.

Mark Kennedy, prosecuting, told the court she subjected Mr and Mrs Jeffs to regular bouts of swearing and mocking while they were in their back garden. On one occasion, she called Mrs Jeffs “a psycho”. On another, she taunted her by saying: “You don’t have a brother any more”, knowing full well that Mrs Jeffs’s brother had died in an accident at work.

“Mrs Jeffs just wants to be left alone and to be able to sit in her garden in peace,” said M|r Kennedy.

Betts had only “a vague recollection” of the abuse, said Mrs Eardley. “She turned to drink at stressful times of her life,” the solicitor added. “But she has received support from the Broxtowe Women’s Project, who have sent a letter to the court, and nothing has happened in the last six months.”

A probation officer, who gave a verbal report to the court, said Betts’s problems stretched back ten years after she herself was taunted by her neighbours and she retaliated.

“She has expressed some remorse, and she doesn’t drink now,” said the officer.

The magistrates sentenced Betts to a community order for six months and fined her £10, plus a victim surcharge of £60.