An eight-year land war between an elderly man and his neighbours has ended with the severely-ill pensioner being given a restraining order, driving ban and £875 court bill.
Phil Taylor, 86, was incensed when Jonathan and Sara Webb chopped back one of his trees overhanging their property in Whitby.
When Mr Webb dumped the cut-off branches and twigs beside a gateway that Mr Taylor used as a back entrance to his property, the pensioner retaliated by parking his silver Ford Focus on a small plot of land belonging to the Webbs.
In response, Mr Webb, a serving police officer, hired a firm to place 40 boulders on the land to stop Mr Taylor encroaching.
During a two-day trial at York Magistrates’ Court, prosecutor Neil Holdsworth said Mr Webb warned Mr Taylor he was about to surround the verge with large sandstone rocks, but the pensioner drove around them and continued to park there. His vehicle became trapped, prompting Mr Taylor to smash chunks out of one of the boulders with a sledgehammer.
Three other boulders later mysteriously disappeared, creating a gap allowing Mr Taylor a former soldier who has ME to drive into his back garden.
The turf war dragged on for years in the ordinarily-peaceful residential area nestled between Highfield Road and, ironically, Love Lane. The court heard Mr Taylor began driving his car back and forth across the land almost daily, doing wheel spins and churning up grass.
The row escalated to such an extent it appeared on an episode of TV series The Nightmare Neighbour Next Door.
Police were called in and the Webbs told officers Mr Taylor would sit in his car for hours, staring over at their property in what they claimed was a “stalking” campaign.
In summer 2014, police gave Mr Taylor a harassment notice and made him sign an Acceptable Behaviour Contract, but his behaviour “escalated”.
Mr Taylor was charged with harassment but denied it, claiming he was trying to protect his “right of way”.
The court heard when the Webbs moved in 14 years ago, they offered to sell the strip of land to Mr Taylor but he refused. Mr Taylor’s barrister claimed the Webbs said he could only use the land if he bought it and added the widower used the back entrance to his property because it was more convenient.
Mr Webb denied there was a formal offer to sell the plot of land and said he and his wife had become virtual “prisoners in our own home” because of Mr Taylor’s “vendetta”.