The unkindest cut: Criminal record for elderly neighbours who cut back man's clematis

86-year-old man and woman aged 81 convicted after 76-year-old complained to police

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Two pensioners in their 80s have been convicted of criminal damage after deliberately cutting back their neighbour’s clematis with secateurs against her wishes.

Stanley George decided to trim the plant when its tendrils began spilling into his garden in Prestatyn, north Wales, the Daily Mail reports.

He said he only snipped off a small section of the hedge, before the 45ft plant unexpectedly collapsed in a heap on the ground.

His neighbour, Rhona Parker, 76, was so upset she called the police and now he has a criminal record at 86 after magistrates decided it was a deliberate act. Another neighbour, Claire Condy, 81, was also convicted.

Mrs Parker said she had planted the clematis 18 years ago to celebrate the birth of her youngest grandchild.

She told Llandudno magistrates she came home in June last year to find Claire Condy standing on a ladder, leaning over a fence and cutting her plants with secateurs.

“I asked her to stop and she told me to get back in and shut my cakehole,” she said. “The whole length was being cut away, she was just telling Mr George what to do when he was on another ladder.”

Mrs Parker was found “crying, shaking and very upset.”

Gardener Philip Wilson, who called to examine the damage, said the plants had been cut in many places.

Alex Fitzgerald, defending, told the court George and Condy thought the plant would be supported. “Accidents do happen,” he said. “But is it a criminal offence. Stupidity or lack of imagination should not lead to conviction.”

Chairman of the bench, Peter Hughes, disagreed and said the prosecution evidence was “compelling and the damage was deliberate.”

George, a former council housing officer, and Condy, a retired teacher, were convicted of criminal damage, given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs.