A 71-YEAR-OLD grandmother has been jailed for a year for making her neighbours’ lives hell.
Maura Ponsford has repeatedly broken restraining orders imposed upon her for harassing neighbour David Millington – leading to two spells in prison.
At Portsmouth Crown Court Ponsford admitted four counts of abusing Mr Millington from her home next to his in Pine Court, Emsworth, in January and February this year.
The court heard the harassment of Mr Millington began in 2012 and his health has suffered from the stress of it.
Prosecutor Ellie Fargin said Mr Millington’s vehicles have been damaged and he had to install CCTV, which put a strain on him financially.
The court heard that on January 22 Mr Millington was parking his van when Ponsford abused him.
On February 5, at 2am, Ponsford began shouting abuse, in relation to her cat, ‘I’m going to have you arrested Dave. My little pet did no harm to you, you animal hater.’
At 8pm on February 7, Mr Millington was outside when he heard Ponsford shouting abuse through her window.
Ponsford was arrested on February 22 and appeared in court the following day.
She was released on bail, returned home, and immediately started shouting abuse at Mr Millington. She was arrested and remanded in custody – where she has been ever since.
In a victim impact statement by Mr Millington, read to the court by Miss Fargin, he said: ‘Every day we are sworn at or abused by her. If I went to my van she would be there.
‘It got to the stage where we couldn’t even talk to our neighbours because she turned them against us, saying I had burgled her or cut her telephone line.’
Ponsford has 14 convictions covering 27 offences. The original restraining order was imposed in 2013 and she was jailed for breaching that.
Louise Howard, representing Ponsford, a former publican, said: ‘She has been living in her home for 15 years.
‘When she moved to the area Mr Millington was already living there.
‘Although they didn’t see eye to eye it did not result in any charges brought against her. It seems that in more recent times the moving-in of his partner to the area ties in with Mrs Ponsford appearing before the courts.’
She went on, ‘She was a lady who in the past would be much more forthright in confrontation with her neighbours.
‘She was much more prone to coming out of her house and shouting at people.
‘She has public order and criminal damage offences.
‘For these offences (against Mr Millington) she has remained in her house and in two of them just single words were uttered She has contributed positively to society in other ways.
‘This clash of personalities has been snowballing in recent years. She is quite an isolated lady. She enjoys an alcoholic drink but does not depend upon it. She sees precious little of her children. They are hard-working and she understands they have busy lives. But the fact is she is a 71-year-old woman and feels everyone is ganging up on her.’
Recorder John Williams said he was shocked and surprised when he found out her age. He said: ‘I then looked at the antecedence and it’s quite apparent something went wrong not too long ago.
‘You seem to have done quite well until you were about 68.’
He added: ‘You must have known the effect of the breaches because of the number of times you’ve been in court.’
For the first three counts Ponsford was jailed for five months each, to run concurrently. For the final breach – which happened while on bail – she was jailed for a further seven months.
Four other charges were left to lie on file. The total is 12 months meaning she will be released within weeks.