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Couple on trial over dispute with next-door neighbours

Nick and Linda Hancock said they were ‘stressed’ and at their ‘wits’ end’ adjacent to Desmond Hughes and Claire Anderson in Cardiff.

A husband and wife have told a court of their frustration at living next door to a couple who are on trial accused of breaching a restraining order preventing harassment.

Nick and Linda Hancock said they were “stressed” and at their “wits’ end” adjacent to Desmond Hughes, 70, and Claire Anderson, 54, in Began Road, Old St Mellons, Cardiff.

The couple, who moved into their home in 2011, said they had been subjects of complaints to the local council about fly tipping, their trampoline and a garden shed.

Mrs Hancock described living next door to the defendants as “frightening” and added: “I have gone through this for five years. We just want to be left alone to live our lives.”

She went on: “I have been so stressed. There have been numerous complaints. Nothing ever comes from these complaints.”

Mr Hancock told the jury at Newport Crown Court that “everything is a frustrating matter” for Hughes.

“I never ever engage with them. We constantly avoid trying to see them,” he said.

“We do try to avoid coming to court. We don’t want to be here. This is causing problems with the potential sale of our house, so we have to think long and hard about ringing the police.

“I am at my wits’ end with the situation.”

Mr Hancock said he was “furious, absolutely furious and I still am” over his alleged run-in with the defendants as he mowed his lawn.

“People with a restraining order are taking no notice at all. They have taken no notice of that restraining order since the day we had it,” he said.

“He looks at me, it’s more of a stare – who is going to look away first? All of this seems a little bit ridiculous.

“We have been dealing with this for five years. If we don’t report it to the police it gets progressively worse.

“We have tried discussing this with them amicably before this even became a court case – it just falls on deaf ears.”

Desmond Hughes and Claire Anderson leave Newport Crown Court, where they are on trial accused of breaching a restraining order against their next door neighbours (Rod Minchin/PA)

Hughes and Anderson are accused of breaching an indefinite restraining order banning them from contacting directly or indirectly Mr and Mrs Hancock and their daughter Talia, 22, after they were convicted in 2013 of harassment.

They were also prohibited from conducting video surveillance of the Hancocks’ home or taking photographs of the family or their house.

Hughes denies four charges of acting in breach of a restraining order while Anderson denies the single charge she faces.

The court heard that on the first occasion in March last year Hughes is accused of using a ladder to lean over a wall and look into his neighbours’ back garden.

Mrs Hancock saw Hughes from her dining room and went outside to confront him, telling him: “Are you having a good nose? You are clearly breaching the restraining order and this will be taken further.”

The next day, Hughes is accused of “loitering” outside his neighbours’ home and when Mrs Hancock returned it is alleged he was trying to “intimidate” her as she drove onto her driveway.

Mrs Hancock said Hughes had “side-stepped” towards her car.

She added: “I believe he really wanted my car to brush past him so he could say that I hit him and he really wanted to set me up that day because I have caught him the previous day.”

The following September, Hughes and Anderson are accused of shouting at Mr Hancock from their rear garden as he mowed his lawn.

An “aggressive and angry” Hughes is alleged to have shouted at Mr Hancock: “You can move that f***ing trampoline.”

While his partner added: “You can move that stupid shed as well.”

As Mr Hancock took a picture of Ms Anderson she gesticulated at him with her middle finger, it is alleged.

The trial continues.

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