Judge tells warring neighbours to get mediation

Friday 22 February 2013 13.16
Judge Alison Lindsay threw out €38,000 damages claims brought by one next-door neighbour against the other
Judge Alison Lindsay threw out €38,000 damages claims brought by one next-door neighbour against the other

A judge has told warring neighbours they should engage in mediation in a bid to solve what she described as the "deeply serious and implacable problems" they face living next door to each other.

Judge Alison Lindsay threw out €38,000 damages claims brought by one neighbour against the other for alleged harassment and intimidation.

The judge refused to make any orders restraining the activities of any of them.

She said neither side, who she described as fine people, had proven their case and made no order.

Each party will now have to bear their own costs which are estimated to run into tens of thousands of euro both cases following a 13-year war between both families and a bitter two-day court hearing.

Mary and Eddie McBride, both in their 80s and Michael and Marian Hanway had accused each other of a war of intimidation and harassment and each sued the other for damages of €38,000 and injunctive restraints on their future behaviour.

Ms Hanway, a nurse, and Michael, a carpenter who now works with a security firm, live at Villa Park Gardens, Navan Road, Dublin. The McBrides live next door.

The Hanways sued the McBrides for emotional suffering, harassment and intimidation, trespass and deliberate camera surveillance of the comings and goings at their home.

The McBrides, in a counter claim, alleged similar behaviour, apart from camera surveillance, against the Hanways as well as assault, noise pollution and having put them in fear.

The court heard that things began festering in 1998 when the Hanways returned from a holiday to find that a boundary wall separating the neighbours' back gardens had been raised by the McBrides by two blocks.

Barrister Pat O'Brien told Judge Lindsay that after a fall-out the McBrides twice brought Mr Hanway to court where, on each occasion, he was convicted, fined and bound to the peace for two years.

The Hanways claimed the McBrides secretly recorded video tapes of their back garden and driveway.

Letters arrived frequently in the Hanway mailbox from solicitors writing on behalf of the McBrides who complained of the constant unbearable sound of wind chimes deliberately hung out by the Hanways as a "torture" and "act of cruelty."

The McBrides also claimed the Hanways poisoned a patch of grass outside the McBride family's front garden wall and kept music blaring loudly even after court convictions.

Mr McBride said Mr Hanway once hosed him down across their boundary wall. The Hanways accused the McBrides of a "tyranny of intimidation."

Breffni Gordon, counsel for the Hanways, told the court the McBrides had rejected written invitations from his clients to enter into mediation talks.

Both families threw a barrage of abuse allegations at each other across the courtroom.