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Elderly woman (78) threatened with prison if feud with neighbour is not ended

She was banging on the adjoining wall and in the garden shouting about the couple next door and the court heard this incident was aggravated by the fact she branded her neighbour 'Hitler'

Newry courthouse police

A 78-year-old woman who spent two weeks in a prison cell because of an ongoing dispute with her neighbours has been warned to control her behaviour or face a much longer stint behind bars.

Sadie Hylands, of Irwin Place in Donaghcloney, appeared at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday following three separate breaches of a restraining order, which had been put in place due to incidents involving her next door neighbour.

On the first occasion, police attended the property and witnessed Hylands address her neighbour, stating, “you’re not a man, you’re a gossip”.

Police were called back on June 4, last year, when she was banging on the adjoining wall and in the garden shouting about the couple next door. The court heard this incident was aggravated by the fact she branded her neighbour “Hitler”.

Police were informed that this behaviour had escalated over a number of weeks and Hylands was arrested and given street bail to attend Banbridge custody suite for interview, which she failed to do.

She had to be arrested in July and taken to the police station after another incident involving her neighbour. Hylands branded this a “tit for tat” argument.

On April 16 of this year, police were again called because the defendant was throwing rubbish over into her neighbour’s back garden, slamming internal doors and continually banging on the internal walls of the adjoining properties “at all hours of the day and night”.

Hylands was arrested and she made full admissions to breaching the restraining order.

And again, last week, she continued to bang the walls, shouting slurs over the adjoining property such as, “you’re not wanted, you’re the enemy; Hitler murdered the Jews; and Jim has married the enemy, referring to the complainant”.

A prosecution lawyer stated: “The injured party believes these comments are in relation to her being originally from Germany, although she’s been in this country for many years.

“She told the complainant to go back to Germany. She admitted making the comment about Germany but denied the others. She admitted mentioning Hitler but says she was talking to God and wasn’t directing [the comments] at her neighbour.”

Hylands’ defence solicitor, Conor Lunny, described it as a “sad situation whereby a lady who reached 77 years of age, without any prior record, got herself involved with the criminal justice system, not once, but now four different times”.

He added: “There is clearly animosity between these two parties and regrettably they live literally next door to each other.”

“It’s a tit-for-tat situation, albeit she knows that she’s going to have to behave herself going forward.”

Mr Lunny explained how his client has been unable to perfect bail which resulted in a 13-night stay in Hydebank.

“One would hope that the 13 nights she has spent in prison have been salutary and that she’s learned her lesson,” he added.

District Judge Michael Ranaghan said: “Ms Hylands, you were in my court about a week or so ago. I was very conscious of your age – I hope you don’t mind me mentioning that – but it’s a very difficult situation for any court to be faced with. Sadly, after I released you on bail, a further offence has been committed.”

The judge presented the 78-year-old with three options, the first of which included one year in prison, but admitted “that is the last thing I want to do”.

The second was a suspended sentence with a prison term hanging over her head but noted that “without some form of intervention, you’re going to offend anyway”.

He handed Hylands a period of one year on probation.

“It’s the only way I can think of to try and put an end to this offending behaviour,” he said. “I think that order should give the protection to your neighbours that is required.

“This behaviour has to stop. I don’t care whether you think it’s tit for tat, it simply has to stop. If it doesn’t stop and you don’t engage with probation, you will go back to prison.”

A fresh restraining order of one year was also imposed.

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