From sex in a hot tub to a spell in jail: the heiress who refuses to play by the rules

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The Independent Online

Being an heiress from one of Britain's most respected dynasties, Julia Pilkington had very particular ideas about how she was prepared to do court-ordered community service.

As penance for the misery she inflicted on her well-heeled neighbours - including verbal outbursts and late-night al fresco sex sessions in her hot tub - she would be willing to work with computers or animals, she said.

Pilkington, 39, thought that it was beneath her dignity when she was to be told when she turned up with other offenders to pick up litter in a forest that she had to swap her mini-skirt, low-cut vest and gold flip-flops for a pair of overalls. It was an infringement of her human rights, she complained.

On another occasion she tried to escape the drudgery by saying that her pet whippet Roxy was ill, although a vet could find nothing wrong.

Yesterday the great, great, great granddaughter of one of the inventors of plate glass lost her battle of attrition with the authorities when a judge put her behind bars after tiring of her excuses. Pilkington was sentenced in Portsmouth magistrates' court to 42 days in prison for two breaches of a 180-hour community service imposed in November 2002 after she was convicted of harassing her neighbours.

Judge John Woollard said: "You were made the subject of a community punishment order in 2002 for what was a sustained harassment campaign of causing all sorts of difficulties for neighbours. I told you what would happen if you failed to comply with it.

"At any one time a third of community punishment orders are broken and this court has a clear message. If you don't comply, you will go to prison. There is no alternative." Having arrived at court in a four-wheel-drive Mercedes with personalised number plates, Pilkington left in a prison van.

During her case the court was told that Pilkington, the daughter of the Rev John Pilkington, made life a misery for the affluent residents of beachside homes in Southsea. Neighbours complained that "Lady P" - a title she had to buy - regularly gave them "an eyeful" as she writhed in the hot tub in her back garden with her boyfriend.

One neighbour, Dr Sheena Mitchell, a university lecturer, told the court she and her husband frequently witnessed her having sex late at night. When she confronted Pilkington on the matter, she responded: "Don't you ever have sex? You silly whore." In the end Dr Mitchell and her husband Stephen decided they could cope no more and moved house.

Pilkington, who continues to receive £2,000 a month from a family trust fund, told Portsmouth magistrates that she was targeted by neighbours jealous of her wealth. Judge Woollard, who was told that Pilkington had previously been of good character and had never experienced prison life, accused her of "breathtaking arrogance" towards her neighbours and sentenced her on four charges of harassment.

In addition to the community service he ordered her to pay £7,000 costs and placed a restraining order on her for five years that forbids her from returning to her £250,000 former home at East Lake Heights. She has since moved to a penthouse suite in the luxurious Sea View apartment block on South Parade, Southsea.

However, Pilkington managed to complete only 98 hours of community service in 15 months and was summoned back to court this week to hear her fate.

The judge was told that Pilkington refused to speak to her probation officer unless she had a witness and a dictaphone. The probation officers had even offered her the chance to work in a charity shop but she refused because she did not want to touch other people's clothes.

Tina Pitman, a Forestry Commission worker, told the court what happened on the day Pilkington was meant to pick litter in the forest. "Miss Pilkington was wearing flip-flops, a small vest top and short skirt," she said.

"I explained her clothing wasn't appropriate because of adders and ticks in the forest. It was also inappropriate because we had a large male workforce. She said it was against her human rights to wear overalls on a hot day."

Pilkington claimed that she was victimised by probation staff because she was the only person in her group who was always singled out to wear overalls. She said she was not aware she was going to be clearing a forest on the day she arrived in her short skirt, vest and flip-flops. She told the prosecutor, Louisa Bagley: "I refused to wear the overalls up to my neck because it was sexual discrimination and the heat of the day."

She then burst into tears as she explained that her dog had cancer and she had been unable to leave Roxy to attend her appointment. "It makes me feel sick, when she's so sick," she told the court.

Last night some of the neighbours who feared that their tormentor would continue to cock a snook at the justice system were celebrating. Victor Childs, a former neighbour who was told by Pilkington after he complained to her that he was a "pervert", said of her jail term: "This sentence is richly deserved.

"The community service order was a joke, which any fool could have carried out and been laughing at the court system. But our Lady P was too snooty to help the aged and poor in Portsmouth's community."