A vegan who failed to tackle a mouse infestation at home after claiming that taking action would go against her ethical beliefs has been fined.
Tendring District Council said 73-year-old Margaret Manzoni considered the mice her pets and “said they would not go to her neighbours because she looked after them”.
Manzoni, of St Osyth, in Essex, admitted at the hearing on 6 October to charges of failing to comply with notices under the Environmental Protection Act and the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act.
She was fined £1,500, with the court awarding the council costs of £2,395 and imposing a victim surcharge of £150.
A cabinet member for environment at Tendring District Council said the prosecution was “a real last resort” but that “despite repeated visits, offers of help, legal notices, and the previous court action, nothing has been done by the property owner”.
The authority prosecuted the pensioner for a second time after she did not comply with a previous order made in April.
Manzoni previously provided food and shelter for the mice while building works were being carried out by the council. An overpowering smell caused by the infestation forced neighbours to move out, the court heard.
At a hearing at Colchester Magistrates’ Court this month, Manzoni was told that while the court “respected her beliefs as an ethical vegan, others saw mice as vermin.”
The court added that the “impact of the infestation on neighbours meant inaction was not appropriate”.
The council’s environmental health team was called in by neighbouring residents who were over-run by mice, causing property damage, due to conditions at Manzoni’s mid-terrace home, the court heard.
Council staff made several visits and offered help, before issuing notices “ordering Manzoni to stop feeding birds, to clear the overgrown garden, and call-in pest control”, the authority said.
“While some building works were carried out by the council, food and shelter continued to be provided by Manzoni for the mice – leading to an overpowering smell and which forced neighbours to move out,” a spokesman for Tendring District Council said.
“Tendring District Council offered Manzoni alternative accommodation but, she considered the mice her pets, said they would not go to her neighbours because she looked after them, and refused to take action stating it went against her ‘ethical beliefs’.
“This led to the first prosecution, since which despite continued regular visits by the environmental health team nothing has changed; leaving the council no choice but to prosecute again.”
Michael Talbot from Tendering District Council said, “We respect people’s personal beliefs and how they choose to live in their homes, but when this has a detrimental impact on others then we have no choice but to take the necessary steps to ensure everyone’s quality of life.”
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