OAP restraining order

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An 83-year-old chartered surveyor who harassed a neighbour in a property dispute has been placed under a restraining order for five years.

Frederick Edward Smith, known as Ted, was last month convicted of harassment, damage and attempted damage to gas bottles belonging to Margaret Claydon in North Street, Seahouses. He had pleaded not guilty.

At Berwick Magistrates Court last week, he was fined £800 for harassment with absolute discharges for criminal damage and attempted damage. He must pay £928.45 compensation, £1,200 costs and £15 victim surcharge.

District Judge Stephen Earl told him: “You cannot take the law into your own hands in future. I hope and indeed pray that we are now in a situation where even if the two of you don’t get on, we may at least end up where the Queen’s peace is preserved.”

Smith’s campaign to claim ownership of Spider Alley, outside their homes, included disabling Mrs Claydon’s only heating in winter and taking away scores of potted plants from a garden she had made.

He is trying to claim adverse possession, in which a squatter gains ownership by controlling a piece of land, though his case has been rejected by the Land Registry.

Smith said he did not think he should compensate Mrs Claydon because he considered the gas cylinders dangerous and also opposed the restraining order. He said he regarded her sheds as part of his home.