Wife says noisy sex conviction breaches rights

Rod Minchin,Press Association
Monday 09 November 2009 16:42 GMT

A couple's nightly sex sessions were making their neighbours' lives' hell, a court heard today.

Caroline and Steve Cartwright's love making was described as "murder" and "unnatural" and drowned out their neighbours' televisions.

But it was not just the neighbours who were up in arms about the noise coming from their terraced house in Hall Road, Concord, Washington, Tyne and Wear - even the local postman and a woman who walked past the house taking her child to school complained.

A judge and two magistrates at Newcastle Crown Court even listened to a 10-minute recording of the Cartwrights romps, which were recorded over a five-day period last August.

Neighbours said the Cartwrights sex sessions would usually start around midnight and last for two or three hours, every night of the week.

Mrs Cartwright is appealing her conviction by magistrates for breaching a noise abatement notice that banned the couple from "shouting, screaming or vocalisation at such a level as to be a statutory nuisance".

She is using Article 8 of the Human Rights Act to argue that she has a right to "respect for her private and family life".

Mrs Cartwright is also arguing that she cannot help making the noise and has instructed a sexual psychologist to give evidence on her behalf.

Next door neighbour Rachel O'Connor said she was frequently late for work because she overslept having been awake most of the night because of the noise.

"It is not very pleasant living there and it has been quite stressful," she told the court.

"I always feel intimidated living there. I was aware of it when I first moved in but I did not believe it would be this bad."

Asked what the noise problem was, she replied: "The Cartwrights having sex. It's just quite unnatural.

"The noise sounds like they are both in inconsiderable pain. Mr Cartwright sounds like he is in inconsiderable pain.

"I cannot describe the noise. Totally excessive and I have never ever heard anything like it.

"I put my telly in my bedroom on as loud as it could go and they drown it out."

Specialist equipment installed in Miss O'Connor's flat by Sunderland City Council recorded noise levels of between 30 to 40 decibels, with the highest being 47 decibels.

Marion Dixon, an environmental health manager with the council, told the hearing what happened when the Cartwrights were confronted by the council with the neighbours' complaints.

"Mr Cartwright held his head in his hands but Mrs Cartwright seemed to find it quite amusing," she said.

"I told them at the time that the council found this extremely serious and was considering serving them with a noise abatement notice.

"She was adamant she could not stop the noise and had always done it."

Mrs Dixon said she visited both Miss O'Connor's flat and Marjorie Hall, who lived the other side of the Cartwrights, and took notes of what she heard.

"I heard a male voice howling loudly, which I felt was very unnerving."

Colleague Pamela Spark also visited Hall Road and took written notes of what she heard.

"Hysterical, almost continuous, just screaming," she said.

"I noted that I found it very disturbing and I noted that it sounded like she was being murdered.

"I also noted that it was very alarming."

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in