Jeanne Wilding faces £200,000 costs bill for failed Asbo appeal

NUISANCE neighbour Jeanne Wilding has had her appeal against her Anti-Social Behaviour Order dismissed and has been told she could be facing costs of up to £200,000.

During a two day hearing at Bradford Crown Court, Wilding, 59, of Wilden Hall, South Bottomley Farm, Walsden, was sentenced to a two year supervision order and 100 hours of unpaid work for two breaches of her ASBO, which was imposed on her in May 2006, by playing loud music.

In his judgement, His Honour Judge Christopher Prince described Wilding as a highly manipulative and deeply disturbed woman whose behaviour may reduce other people to a state of virtual desperation.

He said in his judgement: "To suit her own purposes, Jeanne Wilding will make misrepresentations. She will manipulate the truth. She will evade telling the truth.

"That has been apparent during the course of this hearing and on occasions during this case, it has been quite apparent that she has chosen to lie to the court under oath. We wish to stress this."

Judge Prince, who described the case as extraordinary, made her subject to a new ASBO which prevents her from engaging in any form of conduct which causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to any other person not of her household within England and Wales.

The order, which will remain in force until January 2013, also prevents her from going within six metres of the Acorn Centre in Todmorden and attending any premises where Slade Youth Group meetings are taking place.

After the hearing, neighbours of Ms Wilding spoke of what they have had to endure over the last five years due to her behaviour, describing their lives as "hell".

James Ward, prosecuting, told the court that Wilding was accused of 17 counts of breaching an ASBO in 2006. She pleaded guilty to two of the counts in October 2007.

Mr Ward said that on June 8 2007, without reasonable excuse and in mind to cause distress to her neighbour Penny Price, she played loud music from within her property, contrary to the order. At one point, she left the building with the music still playing.

The following day, June 9, between 10am and 1pm, music was again coming from Wilding's property. At 1.45pm the music was turned down slightly but at 2pm it was turned up again. At 2.45pm the volume was again turned down but ten minutes later the music was turned up extremely loud and stayed at the same level until 6.45pm that night.

Mr Ward said that Mrs Price felt the volume of music was designed to cause her distress while working at home and because of the actions of Wilding in the past, Mrs Price did not dare ask her to turn the music down.

Mrs Price did not confront her but kept a note of what happened and reported it to the police.

David McGonigal, defending, said that Wilding has been out of trouble for the bulk of her life. Mr McGonigal said: "One can perhaps hope that once these proceedings have finished she can return to the individual she was."

He added that Wilding, who has spent time in custody in relation to other proceedings, had found prison quite difficult and had no desire to return there.

In his judgement, Judge Prince said: "This is a history which needs a line drawing below it and I hope that line will be drawn today."

He said the events were part of a campaign unilaterally launched by Wilding against her neighbours. He said in his judgement: "We find that the appellant has, over a period of years, determinedly and consistently striven to create and then escalate conflict with other members of society in a most malicious and manipulative fashion with the clear aim of seeking to disrupt or destroy their quality of life, aims and ambitions."

He recognised that neighbour Paul Cryer, 45, had to make the greatest effort to contain himself during the campaign of anti-social behaviour launched against himself, his wife and his son. Judge Prince added that although the court did not hear evidence from the children of the neighbours, it should not be forgotten that behaviour such as that of Wilding can be damaging to children as well as to their parents.

As part of her supervision order, Wilding will have to report to her supervising officer as and when she is required to do so. Judge Prince said this is so she can receive advice and guidance about her further behaviour from her supervising officer.

Judge Prince said it was his intention that Wilding will pay 200,000 towards costs of the appeal and trial. He felt it was just and reasonable to ask her to pay these costs. He said: "There is no reason whatsoever why the public taxpayer should have to pay for you to come to this court and take up four weeks of the court's time."

Due to the unusualness of the case, he said he will need time to consider the allocation of the costs. On January 31 there will be a further hearing where these costs will be apportioned between the Crown Prosecution Service, Calderdale Council and Wilding's own defence costs.

Speaking after the hearing, Nigel Price, 50, a neighbour of Ms Wilding, said he was delighted that her appeal had been comprehensively dismissed and thanked all the parties involved in bringing the case to court.

He said: "It is now almost five and a half years since Ms Wilding moved to the hamlet of Bottomley and systematically proceeded to make our lives hell. No statement from me can do justice to the upset she has caused so many people. No statement from me can begin to describe the many varied and bizarre ways in which she served to cause 'harassment, alarm and distress'."

Wilding was prevented from living in her Bottomley home due to previous bail conditions but neighbours are concerned that she could return to live in the hamlet now the case has been dealt with.

Mr Price said: "Bail conditions on Ms Wilding have given us 18 months of respite, during which we have begun to live normal lives. Those bail conditions end today.

"We had hoped that today would be an end to this awful part of our lives but with the ineffectual ASBO conditions we have our doubts. We can but hope we are wrong."

Mr Cryer felt relieved that it was all over and hoped they could get their lives back. He said: "The last five and a half years have been hell. We have had no quality of life. It's a one-off case and we have just got to deal with it as best we can."

In a joint statement, Kersten England, Calderdale Council Group Director of Community Services, and acting Chief Supt Alan Ford, Divisional Commander at Calderdale Police, said that while the council was pleased that the decision to issue an ASBO had been upheld, they were disappointed with some aspects of the new order made against Ms Wilding.

Ms England said the council stands by its decision to take action against Ms Wilding and they are now reviewing the options available to them.

She said: "Calderdale Council and West Yorkshire Police have worked together closely to progress this case. It followed repeated requests for help from Ms Wilding's neighbours and members of the Todmorden community who have all been subjected to a prolonged campaign of harassment and nuisance.

"We will continue to support these residents and will do everything we are able to do to ensure they can go about their everyday lives without fear of intimidation.

"After hearing the evidence in this case, His Honour Judge Prince has indicated that Calderdale Council has acted properly in pursuing this matter and in representing the interests of the members of the Todmorden community who turned to us for help.

"His Honour Judge Prince has also spoken of how Ms Wilding behaved in a malicious and manipulative fashion to disrupt and destroy the quality of life for others. Ms Wilding's victims have lived in constant fear of what would happen next.

"It is a Calderdale Council and West Yorkshire Police priority that people feel safe in the community they live in. We will not tolerate anti-social behaviour and we will continue to take action against those who make people's lives a misery."

Last year, Wilding was acquitted of incitement to kidnap Paul Cryer and incitement to cause arson to the Prices' gazebo in January 2007. In June of that year, she was acquitted of assaulting Penny Price.