Academic, 76, jailed over feud with neighbour accused of ‘playing Frank Sinatra songs too loudly’


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WalesOnline

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An academic made a neighbour’s life a “misery” in a feud that started when the victim allegedly played Frank Sinatra records too loudly. Now Dr Elizabeth Hall, 76, who bombarded the victim with emails and ignored court orders to desist, has been sent to prison.

The wheelchair user even told a judge she would turn up to face her sentencing when she felt like it and not when the court told her to. Hall was due to be sentenced last Friday for twice breaching restraining orders but wrote to a judge stating she would come when it suited her.

That cut no ice with Judge Roderick Henderson, so she was arrested and finally appeared at Birmingham Crown Court via video link from a police station, it was reported on the Birmingham Live website.

After admitting the breaches and failing to surrender to bail, Hall was jailed for 18 months and ordered to pay £500 compensation to Christine Penny, the victim. Passing sentence, the judge told her: “For more than 70 years you lived an entirely responsible and law-abiding life but six years ago there was a change in your behaviour leading to you creating misery for your neighbours.”

He said she had been the subject of restraining orders for the last three-and-a-half years but breached them at least seven times. On May 30, the judge said, Hall posted what she said was a “newsletter” at her neighbour’s address. It was also distributed to other residents.

The judge said: “You described it as a newsletter, as if it was something neutral. That was very far from the truth. It was, in effect, a poison pen letter repeatedly referring to the complainant as framing her and perjuring herself in court.

“It is easy to underestimate how distressing and hurtful this conduct and continuing harassment can be. There is a real risk or real harm to the complainant from this behaviour continuing.” In addition to jailing her, the judge issued a further, indefinite, restraining order.

Sabhia Pathan, prosecuting, previously told the court that Hall and the victim lived in the same block of flats, owning their properties, but were “on top of each other”. There had been a history between them, she said. Despite the restraining orders, Hall had twice gone on to the victim’s landing at Melville Hall, Edgbaston.

On the first occasion — May 30 — she posted a letter. Ms Penny later checked CCTV and identified Hall. On June 12, she heard the clatter of walking sticks on the landing outside and opened her door. There followed a confrontation and Ms Penny reminded Hall of the order.

The court was previously told that Hall had sent 53 emails and letters, also in breach of an order. They made a number of false allegations, even targeting Ms Penny’s plants, as the feud came to a head in 2016.

Some accusations were posted on a communal notice board during Hall’s “campaign”, which was said to have stemmed from Ms Penny allegedly playing Frank Sinatra recordings too loudly. In July last year, Hall was sentenced to 12 months, suspended for 21 months, after being found guilty at a magistrates’ court of harassment and of breaching a restraining order.

Shortly before her November 11 court appearance she sent the officer in the case a note stating she would not be attending. It said: “I am aware I am due in court on November 11 for sentencing and committal. I have taken the decision not to attend as a mode of identifying and highlighting the multiple anomalies in the management of my case and the investment of yourself and others in generating and maintaining a false narrative with its implications for the delivery of ‘justice’. This is unnegotiable and I am adamant I shall appear when this suits me.”

Melville Hall, in Edgbaston

In a victim impact statement, 73-year-old Ms Penny, a former hotel owner who according to Mail Online was once an actress who had appeared in the Birmingham-based TV soap Crossroads, said she felt she was being constantly bombarded and harassed by Hall. “I fear the behaviour will continue given the proximity of the defendant,” she said. “I feel more and more vulnerable.”

She added: “I feel like a prisoner in my own home. It has consumed my life.” Ms Penny said she believed Hall became obsessed. “I am extremely distressed by her ac…

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