A woman sold a couple the house next door to hers – then terrorised them for four years after they moved in.
Gwendoline Griffith, 82, had become known as the “Witch in the Ditch” after allegedly filling another neighbour’s run-off tank with concrete a decade ago in a dispute over a drainage channel.
Now she has been told to pay more than £200,000 after a terror campaign that included firing an air rifle over her new neighbours’ property, constant surveillance and photography – and standing for two hours in their hedge.
Ben and Eleanor Allen thought they had found their dream first home when they moved nextdoor to Griffith in Threapwood, Cheshire – population just 153.
But a friend of the couple told the Sunday Mirror: “Living next door to Gwen has been nothing short of a nightmare.
“She was the most unlikely neighbour from hell. At first glance she was a harmless old lady. Ben and Eleanor quickly realised that wasn’t the case.”
Griffith is now thought to be selling up after being taken to court over her harassment of the couple.
The friend added: “She’s the last person you’d want next door and now she’s on the move again. People should watch out.”
The Allens bought Boundary Cottage from Griffith in 2012, with planning permission to convert it.
But she kept “continued surveillance” on the couple, Chester county court was told at a four-day hearing.
She photographed the property and was captured on CCTV tying red ribbons on trees, often used to show they are protected.
Griffith was cautioned after allegedly blocking their drive with her tractor, but weeks later threatened to shoot Eleanor’s parents’ dog with a .22 air rifle.
A police helicopter and armed officers were later scrambled when she fired pellets over a yard where Ben’s father was working.
That led to a restraining order – but her campaign continued. Eleanor and Ben thought of moving, but feared taking a loss if they warned would-be buyers over Griffith.
Eventually they took in an ex-police dog, Frankie, to feel more secure.
Finding in the Allens’ favour on five incidents from 2014 to 2018, Judge Lynda Sykes said: “The behaviour extends from apparently low-level to bizarre and dangerous, such as firing an air rifle over the property.
“Under cross-examination she felt she acted perfectly reasonably and did not believe she’d done wrong.”
Ben, 37, often worked offshore and Eleanor, 35, was signed off with panic attacks.
Calling Griffith “unwavering in her conviction that everyone else is wrong”, Judge Sykes ordered her to pay £87,312.50 damages, and legal costs of at least £140,000.
Griffith said after the case: “It’s been blown up out of all proportion.”
She said she had fired “a couple of blanks down the drive to frighten the dog” and “five blanks to get rid of herons, buzzards, crows and the rest of the wildlife on my pond.”
The Allens’ solicitor, Fiona Blakeborough, of Hillyer McKeown, said: “The evidence given by Eleanor, Ben and their neighbour in court would have brought many to tears.”
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