A former House of Lords specialist advisor and his partner directed CCTV cameras on their next-door neighbours’ garden and driveway, a court heard.
Desmond Hughes, 65, of Began Road, Cardiff, and Clare Anderson, 50, both pleaded not guilty at Cardiff Magistrates’ Court to harassment without violence.
The court heard evidence today from 18-year-old Talia Hancock, who lives with her parents in a semi-detached home that shares a wall with Hughes and Anderson’s property.
Miss Hancock told the court she had never really spoken to the couple since her family arrived in 2011, but had been made to feel uneasy when she saw security cameras honed in on her home.
She told District Judge Bodfan Jenkins that in 2011 she
saw surveillance cameras aimed “on to our back garden” and “pointed directly on to our drive”.
“It was directly angled,” she said. “It wasn’t pointed on to his property – just ours.”
The teenager told the court that she thought the white cameras had remained there “until this year”.
“At the moment there’s not anything on our property I don’t think. But when we moved in, the cameras were pointing on our garden,” she added.
During his cross-examination, defending barrister Giles Newell said that the teenager “can’t be sure what exactly these cameras are focusing on” and that she had “never asked why they have got those cameras”.
But while Miss Hancock accepted she had not approached them, she adamantly said that the cameras were focused on the grounds of her family’s home.
“I’m certain it was pointing directly on to our garden,” she said, when asked about the rear house camera.
Police officer Christopher Fennessy confirmed there were a number of cameras on Hughes’ and Anderson’s property but found no evidence of recordings.
Miss Hancock also told the court how she had been made to feel uneasy by the constant staring from her neighbours.
“They would always look up at my window. I was always aware of that from the moment I moved in,” she said. “They would stand there with their hands on their hips staring up at my bedroom until I moved away from my window.”
Prosecution barrister Adam Corbin asked when Hughes and Anderson stopped staring into through her window at the front of the house.
“It hasn’t stopped,” replied the 18-year-old.
“It’s whenever they’re on their drive.”
Hancock would be told by her mother to ignore the couple, but the teenager told the court it got to a stage where her parents would have to open and close the curtains.
“My mum would always tell me to ignore them but it got to the point where I felt really intimidated towards them.
“Whenever I’m in my bedroom now, my curtains are always drawn.”
She told the court “it happened quite frequently” with the last time it happened being a month or two ago. But Mr Newell said the 18-year-old “had never actually had a conversation with them” and that “the houses are adjoined so you’re in pretty close proximity”.
“Did you ever think to wave and say hello,” said Mr Newell.
“No, I thought it was odd behaviour to stand and stare up at somebody,” replied an emotional Miss Hancock.