‘Britain’s worst neighbour’, 68, ordered to pay £2,800 after ‘terrorising’ neighbour with overgrown pot plant and CCTV

‘Britain’s worst neighbour’, 68, ordered to pay £2,800 after ‘terrorising’ neighbour with overgrown pot plant and CCTV

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BRITAIN’S “worst neighbour” was ordered to pay a fine of £2,800 after she “terrorised” her neighbour with an overgrown pot plant and CCTV.

Mary De Jong, 68, fell out with retired university lecturer Stephen Johnson three years ago, in the town of Topsham near Exeter, Devon.

A dispute arose after De Jong planted a tree that grew to block Johnston’s kitchen window
Mary De Jong smiles as she arrives at the Exeter Crown Court in Devon
SWNS:South West News Service

Dutch born De Jong decided to grow a plant to block the light coming into his kitchen window in their shared courtyard.

She then pointed CCTV cameras at the back of his house as she became “unreasonable and awkward as possible”, Exeter Crown Court heard.

In 2017, De Jong was given a restraining order and told to cut back a large pot plant used to block the light and stop using the CCTV cameras.

But she failed to obey the orders and was convicted by a jury of twice breaching the ruling.

Judge Peter Johnson classed her actions as a “deliberate breach”, before saying: “It seems clear to me you were hell bent on making Mr Johnston’s life a misery.”

On Thursday, Judge Peter Johnson sentenced her to a 12 month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work, £2,800 costs and a three year restraining order which bans her from placing any object one metre from Mr Johnston’s window.

‘SHE ENJOYS CONFRONTATION’

She is also banned from any CCTV cameras recording or pointing at his home, and not to obstruct his doorway or windows.

The judge told her: “It seems to me there are two Mary De Jongs. One kind, considerate and charitable, the other is the polar opposite of those qualities.”

Prosecutor Lee Bremridge said: “For months Mary De Jong has been terrorising Stephen Johnston with her pot plants and her CCTV cameras.

“She planted a bush which purposely blocked his window and prevented him opening it fully, causing a disruption, despite him asking her to cut it back.

“He has tried to deal with things reasonably – Mary De Jong is not a reasonable person.

“These things on their own may seem insignificant, but over the months and years they have been very distressing and harassing for Mr Johnston.”

In 2016 De Jong was convicted of assaulting another neighbour Elizabeth Kingston, after she crashed her push bike into her.

It seems to me there are two Mary De Jongs. One kind, considerate and charitable, the other is the polar opposite of those qualities.


Judge Peter Johnson

She was given a conditional discharge for battery and told to payu £50.

Mr Johnston had supported Miss Kingston, and his support allegedly “soured their relationship”.

Describing the living situation with De Jong, Miss Kingston, 74, said: “I would definitely describe her as Britain’s worst neighbour.

“It has been constant every day – several times a day – and had to come to an end before we went insane. We are all just worn out and need some peace.

“She seeks confrontation. She enjoys it and will only stop if she is forced to do so. It will only end if she is forced to stop.”


De Jong remained defiant saying:”I don’t think justice has been done at all. I am disappointed with the verdict.

“The plant has been cut back and the camera is definitely not monitoring his door.”

Yesterday her lawyer Paul Dentith said:”There are two sides to every story.

She does not accept the conviction and may pursue in her own time a remedy.”

He claimed the “uncontroversial solution” to this problem would be to place a fence in her garden.

After the sentence Dr Jong said from the dock: “Am I allowed to erect a fence?”

The judge said she should speak to her lawyer.

Liz Kingston was rammed with a bike by De Jong after the two fell out in 2015
SWNS:South West News Service
De Jong also pointed a CCTV camera at Johnston’s home
SWNS:South West News Service
Stephen Johnston said the plant grew considerably after being placed beneath his window
SWNS:South West News Service
He added that relations between a group of neighbours had been amicable before De Jong moved in
SWNS:South West News Service

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