A WINSHAM pensioner who allegedly harassed his neighbour in a boundary dispute over the ownership of a hedge has been ordered by a court to keep away from her for the next five years or face prison.

John Frederick Lemon was said to have been abusive towards his neighbour for a number of years as the hostility between them escalated.

He was also accused of depositing cuttings from the hedge onto her drive preventing her from being able to get out of her property.

He also allegedly cut holes in it when the complainant said it belonged to her in a dispute that has spanned nearly 10 years.

Lemon, 69, of Ebbon Lane, appeared before Somerset Magistrates after previously denying two charges of harassment and criminal damage involving the complainant Karen Hodgkin.

He had been due to stand trial over the alleged offences but following extensive negotiations between the prosecution and defence it was decided to settle the matter with a non-conviction restraining order.

Prosecutor Thomas Faulkner said that the two neighbours had lived in the small village of Winsham for a number of years and Lemon was said to have become increasingly abusive and harassing in his behaviour towards her.

There was a disputed boundary between them in the form of a large fir hedge, reaching up to 20feet high I places.

“Mrs Hodgkin says it is her hedge but Lemon disagrees and says it is on his property, and this is clearly a matter that needs to be resolved in the civil court,” he said.

“However there has been hostility between them and between 2013 and 2019 there have been large amounts of garden waste being deposited outside Mrs Hodgkin’s drive from the boundary hedge and other plants.

“This has stopped her getting out of her property and there is also a dispute about who should be cutting the hedge and Lemon has cut it down to two metres in places and some holes have also been put in it.

“There have also been allegations of Lemon leaning over and cutting trees and plants that are clearly on his neighbour’s side of the property.”

Mr Faulkner said that from 2018 onwards the defendant had allegedly become more aggressive and harassing towards Mrs Hodgkin and she said she no longer enjoyed living in her property.

“This dispute has quite frankly gone too far now and needs to be resolved and there has been significant police intervention which has been unsuccessful and unfortunately the behaviour resulted in a necessity for the police to bring charges into the criminal court,” he said.

He said that the civil court would now have to determine who owns the boundary but said that Mrs Hodgkin had come to the court to seek protection from her neighbour.

“As a result the best way forward for this court would be to avoid a trial and for a non conviction restraining order to be put in place,” he added.

The magistrates agreed to the request and imposed a restraining order for the purpose of protecting Karen Hodgkin for a period of five years.

During that time Lemon must not contact her directly or indirectly except through solicitors for the purpose of resolving the boundary dispute in the civil court.

He was also ordered not to enter her property by any means and not to leave garden waste on her property.

Lemon was warned that these were serious matters and if he did not abide by the terms of the order then he could be sent to prison.