An exiled woman who fled Zimbabwe with her children for a better life met a new nightmare in Yatton Keynell in the form of her neighbour.
Claire Sharpe, 33, was given a restraining order by Chippenham magistrates after allegedly filming Lisa Trumble’s garden next door with a camcorder for nearly eight weeks in March and April this year.
The order comes six months after Miss Sharpe was given a harassment notice following a series of serious unfounded allegations by her against Ms Trumble.
Police said since Miss Sharpe moved in three years ago, she had told them her neighbour had stabbed her with a screwdriver, stabbed her with a set of keys, driven into her with her car at 50mph and keyed her car.
All allegations were investigated and thrown out.
Ms Trumble, 47, said: “It has been a very unhappy nightmare. I’ve had so many different departments knock on my door questioning me; that is really scary, even if you know you’ve done nothing wrong, it’s really difficult to cope. I am a quiet person, I don’t like conflict, I don’t understand why she’s doing it.
“Three times she said I ran her over. It frightened me because I’d look out the window and see police looking underneath my car and your heart starts pounding.
“Once she phoned the police in front of me and said, ‘Help me, my neighbour’s stabbing me’ and they were out straight away.”
Ms Trumble also had her benefits temporarily stopped while she was investigated by the benefits agency, and had a visit from the RSPCA to see if she was cruel to her pets.
“My Maltese dogs, they’re my babies,” she said. “When the inspectors came round, they said they hadn’t seen dogs quite so spoilt.”
She said problems began with a parking dispute.
Before Miss Sharpe moved in she had enjoyed talking to people, but she had become withdrawn and did not like to go into her garden anymore, though she said she would find it hard to move away.
“We fled our home country Zimbabwe in 2001. We had to leave everything behind and start again with nothing,” she said.
“The first year we were in a hostel and I told my children, who were six and 14 then, I’ll make sure one day we get a nice house again.
“Now I’ve made a cosy home, to leave it all behind would be really difficult, and the other residents in the street are really nice.”
Miss Sharpe was due to have an all-day trial on Monday after pleading not guilty to stalking, but was acquitted before it began.
Nick Barr, prosecuting, told the court that Sergeant Phil Connor had made it clear all allegations against Ms Trumble had been investigated and there was no substance to any of them.
He added: “Miss Sharpe was issued with a harassment notice in February 2013 and within a short space of time that was breached by putting the camera at her kitchen window directly pointing into Lisa Trumble’s garden, at whoever came to her front door.
“That caused some distress, as you would imagine.”
But Terry McCarthy, defending, told the court: “The reason she set up a camcorder was that she got an email from the police advising her if she was concerned about the behaviour of her neighbour then she should film it.
“It isn’t appropriate to use this court to deal with a neighbours’ dispute.”
Magistrates gave Miss Sharpe a restraining order, forbidding her from recording Lisa Trumble’s home address by any means of electronic device until further order.
Outside court after the case, Sgt Connor said: “People are given advice by the police to gather evidence of anti-social behaviour, but at no time has Miss Sharpe ever been told by us to set up a camera and continuously film her neighbour’s private property.
“In fact she was given warnings by the police to remove it.
“With regards to making false and malicious allegations, not only can it cause a lot of distress, it is a criminal offence and we will pursue it.”