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A woman who launched an 18-month-long hate campaign against the next-door neighbours at her parents’ £1million home in a wealthy London suburb has been found guilty of assault, harassment and criminal damage.
A court heard how Joanne Shreeves acted ‘like a woman possessed’ when she threw bricks, boulders, part of a kitchen cabinet and a shovel-full of cement over the fence of the luxury property in Chingford Essex, causing £5,000 worth of damage.
Shreeves also drew her fingers across her throat and told Sandra Durdie and Trevor Dempsey ‘you’re dead’ and called one ‘you dirty f****** c***’.
Footage of the vicious 18-month-long dispute, captured on CCTV, were played at Stratford Magistrates Court where Shreeves was ordered to answer charges of harassment, threatening behaviour and common assault.
In one clip she can be seen in the alley that divides the properties throwing a shovel-full of cement over the fence.
Joanne Shreeves drew her fingers across her throat and told Sandra Durdie and Trevor Dempsey (pictured together) ‘you’re dead’ and called one ‘you dirty f****** c***’
Shreeves, 51, refused to attend court today to answer the charges, claiming she was ‘unwell’.
But District Judge William Nelson ruled that the trial would go ahead in her absence due Ms Shreeve’s ‘pattern of not attending court’.
Crown Prosecutor Elizabeth Ajayi told the court: ‘At the time of the incidents [the parties] were neighbours.
The couple (pictured last year), who now live in Ramsgate in Kent, were bailed to appear for trial
‘There have been allegations and counter allegations which relate to both parties calling the police.
‘There have been attempts to mediate and intervene without the matter becoming criminal proceedings.
‘Despite all we end up have criminal cases before the court.’
The court heard that Shreeves returned to her childhood home in February 2019 and embarked on her vicious hate campaign when the neighbours fell out over a concrete post that Mr Dempsey knocked over in the drive way and replaced without agreement.
Over the next 18 months Shreeves caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to her neighbour’s property, breaking through their fence, knocking over garden flowers and ruining their custom-built potting shed.
Trevor Dempsey told the court: ‘We had lived at that address since September 1997. We were forced out of our house.’
Mr Dempsey, 62, an MOT test examiner, described how Shreeves began to hurl debris over the dividing fence one Saturday morning in October 2020.
He told the court: ‘She went berserk.
‘She was like a woman possessed, laughing hysterically.
‘She went to her garage, took out her shovel and shovelled out what we put in and threw it over the top of the fence and actually hit me.
‘You could see her throwing boulders over the fence throwing stuff at the house and windows.
‘She was out of control. There were boulders and bricks coming over your fence. If that had have hit us it would have killed us.’
Mr Dempsey called police but Shreeves allegedly made a follow-up call cancelling the request for officers to come to the scene.
CCTV footage showed defendant walking up and down the garden with a large broom, poking it over the garden fence.
She was also shown snipping off tape on the fence that read ‘Keep Out’.
Shreeves allegedly made a throat-slitting gesture to Mr Dempsey and Ms Durdin through their living room window, before turning away laughing, while calling them ‘c**ts’.
His wife Sandra Durdie told the court that the families had been friends for over 20 years and had attended parties at each other’s houses before their relationship turned sour following Shreeves return to her parent’s home.
The 58-year-old told the court: ‘She was constantly threatening to kill me.
‘She’s constantly watching me, looking at me, filming me constantly. She knows where I am in my property and when I leave my property.
‘I was worried she would follow out her acts. She has acted on her threats and followed me out the house before.
‘I felt scared and threatened.
‘I felt petrified that she had a sledgehammer on the other side of the fence.
‘It was mayhem absolutely mayhem. Everything was pushed over and broken.
‘She was throwing rock, brick, stone, anything heavy saying “I’m going to get the windows, let’s get the c–ts”.
‘She was destroying everything she could.’
Asked what effect the threats have had upon her, Ms Durdin said: ‘I was petrified. It drove us to move our house, it was constant death threats. She said “I know people in Chingford” and I took that seriously.’
‘We moved because we had no quality of life, we were constantly in fear of what she was going to do.’
Ms Durdin said she and her husband had been ‘good friends’ with Joanna’s dad Peter Shreeves, who owned the property.
The former home (left) of Sandra Durdin, 58, and Trevor Dempsey, 62, in Chingford, north London, who have been accused by their old neighbour (right) of harassing them for over a year
He had them over for barbecues until Shreeves and her mother ‘both pushed us out of the house.’
The court saw footage of Shreeves spitting into the face of Ms Durdie’s son Mitchell Dempsey. He can be seen wiping his face clean after the assault.
District Judge William Nelson found Shreeves guilty on all charges including assault by common assault in relation to the spitting.
He said: ‘I have seen her spit and heard her spit and it is clear to me that they spit landed upon him [Mr Mitchell] and therefore it is clearly from the footage intentional.
‘It is therefore unlawful use of violence and I find her guilty of that offence.’
Shreeves was not in court to provide a defence.
But following her arrest in June 2021 she told police in interview that she had been harassed and abused by Mr Dempsey and Ms Durdie over several months.
She told police: ‘I’m looking after my elderly parents as my father has Alzheimer’s and my mother is in denial.’
At an earlier hearing he had claimed that CCTV evidence was doctored.
But Judge Nelson said ‘I can see no way in which this evidence is doctored.
Trevor Dempsey, 62, and Sandra Durdin, 58, from Chingford, (pictured outside Thames Magistrates’ Court last year) have previously denied flooding their neighbour’s alleyway by overwatering plants and putting barbed wire on garden fencing
‘I have no doubt that she [Shreeves] intended for the occupants of that house to have heard the language she used. It was designed to cause harassment, alarm or distress, which indeed it caused, so I find her guilty of that offence.’
Shreeves was convicted of assault, criminal damage and two counts of threatening behaviour with intent in relation to the couple.
The judge ordered reports and adjourned sentence until June 6.
Speaking after the hearing Mr Dempsey and Ms Durdin told of their relief at Shreeves’ conviction.
Ms Durdin told MailOnline: ‘I’m so relieved. We have been through 18 months of held because of that woman.
‘We had to move to get away from her. We couldn’t live there anymore.’
Mr Dempsey added: ‘We were friends for 24 years.
‘There were never any issues until Joanne moved back home. But we had to move.’
The couple have since moved to Ramsgate in Kent.