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A GREEN-fingered woman sued her ex-boyfriend for £200,000 for “trashing” her flower beds after their breakup.
Patricia Langley, 71, claimed her solicitor ex-partner Lucian Milburn was behind a “slash and burn” at the garden in the flats where they both lived.
The couple had lived together in a flat in Camden, north London, but ended up fighting a “sad and unfortunate” court case after they split.
At Central London County Court, Miss Langley sued him for about £200,000 over wrongful interference with her plants, restriction of access to the garden and a series of breaches of his obligations as freeholder of the building in which the flat is.
But despite awarding her about £13,000 damages for breaches of his freeholder obligations, a judge has left Mrs Langley with nothing after rejecting her claims that her ex had torn up her lovingly cultivated garden and ordering her to pay over £15,000 towards his lawyers’ bills.
The court heard that the couple had been in a relationship for many years and in 2001 had together bought a second floor flat in a townhouse in Camden Road, of which Mr Milburn was the freeholder.
They separated in 2011 and Mr Milburn moved into another flat in the basement of the house, where he now lives with his wife.
Miss Langley claimed that, in 2015, her ex then tried to ban her from the communal front garden of the flats and soon afterwards she found flowers and plants she had maintained for years destroyed.
‘SLASH AND BURN’
She said: “I came out and found the front garden like a slash and burn, with the exception of Mr Milburn’s favourite plants: the peonies, the geraniums.
“All my plants had been ripped up and torn up. Some of them might even have to have been dug up.
“The plantings he was fond of weren’t touched. The gardenias weren’t touched.
“It was indescribable, the destruction of what was a well-maintained garden…It was an act of dismemberment in effigy of my person.”
She told the judge she believes her ex “had a good hand” in the trashing of her plants, branding him “sneaky and dishonest”.
She also sued for damages for breaches of some of Mr Milburn’s obligations to her as freeholder, which makes him her landlord as well as joint owner of the flat.
Following a storm at Christmas 2017, the flat had been damaged by rainwater, leaving it “uninhabitable,” she claimed.
She had then been deprived of an electricity supply for months, she added,
Judge Simon Monty QC said Miss Langley’s evidence about the plants was “overblown” and overly dramatic, having claimed to be “beside herself with grief.”
JUDGE ‘NOT CONVINCED’
He said: “I am not convinced on the evidence I have heard that Mr Milburn was responsible for destroying the plants.
“Miss Langley was notably reluctant to accuse him directly as having done it.
“The furthest that Miss Langley was prepared to go was to say that Mr Milburn ‘had a hand in it’ and that ‘he knows how to dig up plants, and his were undamaged’.
“I am not persuaded by Miss Langley that it was Mr Milburn who destroyed the plants.”
She had also already received some compensation for the loss of her plants during an earlier court row, he said.
The claims that Mr Milburn had not maintained common parts of the property were also rejected, but the judge awarded her nearly £13,000 compensation for the effect of the flooding following the storm at Christmas 2017.
However, Mr Milburn had offered to settle the case before the trial for £30,000, which she had rejected, meaning she would have to pay £15,689 towards his lawyers’ bills, leaving her owing him £2,744 at the end of the case.