A 83-YEAR-OLD great-gran who ‘waged psychological warfare’ on her neighbours after a football landed in her garden has been handed a suspended jail sentence.
In a shocking campaign of harassment, Ethel Watkins ‘visited mental torture’ on the family, who can’t be named for legal reasons, after they moved in next door.
Watkins branded them ‘scum’ and ‘hooligans’, deprived the young children of sleep by repeatedly banging on the walls, and made up foul-mouthed songs about the family.
The church-goer, a member of the Royal British Legion’s Women’s Section for 66 years before she was kicked out for the offences, even set off her own burglar alarm to disturb the peace and taunted the young mother about the loss of a six-month-old baby.
Evidence gathered by the victims included snaps of Watkins flashing a V-sign and sticking her middle finger up as she passed their home.
In a bid to stop the abuse, Watkins was given a five-year restraining order in July last year preventing her from contacting the family or any visitors to their home in Melton.
She was handed the ban, and a fine, after admitting a charge of harassment at Loughborough Magistrates’ Court, and was told she had only just escaped jail because of her age.
But incredibly, Watkins ignored the warning, and was arrested again within 24 hours of her court appearance for resuming her reign of terror on the quiet residential street.
Watkins pleaded not guilty to breaching the restraining order on four separate occasions.
But magistrates rejected her denials and convicted her of the offences last December.
Chairman of magistrates Ben Faust adjourned sentence until yesterday (Wednesday) so psychiatric reports into Watkins’ mental state could be prepared.
Lisa O’Driscoll, defending, said medical reports showed Watkins was suffering from the early stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and claimed this explained much of her erratic behaviour.
But Mr Faust said it was clear Watkins ‘retained the capacity to know right from wrong’.
He added: “Your actions had a significant impact on the children living next door to you. The family were victimised by you to such an
extent they had to leave home.”
Mr Faust told Watkins that if the family had remained at home, she would have been sent to prison because it would have been the court’s
duty to protect them from further harm. The family now live in Cyprus.
Instead she was given a 26-week jail term, suspended for two years, ordered to pay the family £2,000 in compensation, as well as
prosecution costs of £620.
She was also reminded by magistrates the existing five-year restraining order remained in place.
In a statement read before Watkins was sentenced yesterday (Wednesday), Watkins’ male victim asked the court what steps would be taken to protect his
family from her when they return to the UK in two years’ time.
He added it would be very difficult to sell their home, as he would feel ‘honour bound’ to tell potential buyers about Watkins.