This is the moment an ‘eight-year neighbourly row’ boiled over into a retired firefighter’s beloved shrub being hacked up by his next door neighbour who he is accused of being ‘infatuated with’.
Ian Walton, 54, claims he has been embroiled in a spat with Maxine Johnson when a parking dispute turned sour shortly after moving into his Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, home.
The row escalated with police being repeatedly called, including both parties making allegations of criminal damage to a fence.
Cops confirmed a woman was arrested over allegations of theft of garden table legs in April 2016 – however was subsequently released without charge.
Ian Walton caught his neighbour Maxine Johnson cutting up a shrub with a pair of garden shears following an eight-year row between the pair
Mr Walton, pictured, said he returned from holiday to find his shrub ‘hacked to pieces’ and discovered the attack on his CCTV cameras
Miss Johnson claims her neighbour is ‘infatuated’ with her an annoyed because she ‘spurned his advances’
Ms Johnson claims her neighbour is only angry with her because he wrote her love letters but she ‘spurned his advances’ – which he strenuously denies and claims the messages were forged.
The row escalated again this year when Ms Johnson began complaining that flowers from a small bush of Mr Walton’s were sticking to her car and ruining the paintwork.
When he returned from his holidays in August he discovered his shrub hacked to pieces with bits strewn across his lawn, so he quickly checked his cameras.
Shocking CCTV footage shows Ms Johnson marching down the side of Ian’s fence with a pair of garden shears before spending more than a minute beheading it.
Divorced father-of-five Mr Walton said: ‘I went out to cut the grass and saw big clumps of my bush laying on the lawn.
‘I instantly knew it was her based on her continuous bad behaviour over the past eight years. So I checked the cameras.
‘When I saw the footage, initially I was a little angry, but that quickly turned to amusement and bemusement.
‘Other people’s reaction [who saw the footage] has been a mixture of anger and amusement too to be honest.
Mr Walton said he ‘instantly knew’ Ms Johnson was behind the cutting, pictured, because of her ‘past bad behaviour’
Ms Johnson, pictured taking photos of Mr Walton’s garden to ‘prove it was not damaged’, said the pair had rowed because Mr Walton kept parking on her drive
‘I couldn’t be bothered to report this incident as I knew nothing would come of it again.
‘And to be honest, I got greater satisfaction from the reaction to the 1,700 or more hits the video has had on Facebook.
‘I haven’t confronted her. The thing was just before I had gone away I had been nice to her again, so this latest act was just the last straw.
‘I have seen her out [at] the front. She looked straight at me and I just blanked her. She has had all the chances I am prepared to give her.’
Mr Walton claims there has been a ‘long history’ of incidents between the two of them, despite them originally being friendly when he first moved in eight years ago.
The retired firefighter says the feud originated after he complained about his neighbour ‘deliberately’ dumping her car in front of his drive ‘to annoy him’.
Mr Walton said: ‘The first problem with her was when she started taking her car off her driveas soon as I went out and parking outside my house leaving her own driveway empty.
‘She would sometimes leave it there for anything up to two weeks just to annoy me.
‘Parking [in our street] is a real problem at the best of times. [While what she was doing was] not illegal, [it was] definitely a deliberate attempt to wind me up.
She added he had sent her love letters, which she ‘spurned’, and that his flowers stick to her car when driving past, damaging the paintwork
‘I have had food thrown in my garden, cooking oil thrown over the fence. So many silly little things I can’t remember them all, but all totally unreasonable behaviour.
‘The police have been involved in the past, but because it’s all silly little things they seem reluctant to pursue the matter, just saying I should try and ignore it if possible.’
However Ms Johnson claims that the parking issues have in fact been due to Ian parking on her drive.
She says they originally began as friends but once she rejected his advances their relationship turned sour.
Ms Johnson, who is in her 40s, said: ‘When he first moved in he didn’t know where the schools or shops were or anything or know anybody.
‘Me being me, I showed him where everything was.
‘He sent the letters within three weeks of moving in. The letters are not fraudulent at all.
‘There were two letters stating that he “fell immediately in love” with me, but he knew I “just wanted to be friends”.
‘I just said “don’t s*** on your own doorstep. I don’t think so”.’
Mr Walton, pictured, denied ever sending her love letters and claimed they were ‘forged’
However Mr Walton denies the allegations and says the letters are fraudulent.
He said: ‘I believe she wrote a letter to herself supposedly from me, saying that I basically fancied her and that I had reported her because she had spurned my advances.
‘This is complete bull. I was so flabbergasted at this, it completely stunned me.
‘But I wish to god now I had insisted [to see] this ‘letter’, as I would have been able to prove beyond any doubt that I did not write it.’
Upon police advice, Mr Walton said he decided to install CCTV cameras a few years ago to capture any further incidents.
However he claims she complained about the cameras and then he caught her taking photos over the back fence.
Ms Johnson claims Mr Walton damaged her original fence, which is why she took photographs of a new one she bought for £900.
She also says she warned him about the petals on the bush.
Ms Johnson, who is a child minder and has worked in public relations, said: ‘He brings his drums in from the shed and bangs those. Or he is hoovering and leans the hoover against the door. He slams doors and cupboards too.
‘As for the plant outside, the other tree had been too big and he cut it down earlier this year. So fair enough, he planted a different plant.
‘I did explain to him that it has got minute, little white petals that stick to my car and mark the paintwork. You can’t get them off.
‘By law, I can cut it to my fence size if it is overgrowing. But he let it grow. He knew that it would cause this problem.
‘I asked him to cut it to fence level but he didn’t listen. I said to him that I will cut it and keep it to my fence level, or you can have a bill for respraying the whole of my car on the passenger side.
‘But he wouldn’t listen to me. I haven’t spoke to him since I cut the bush.’
Before resorting to hacking up the shrub, Ms Johnson claims the pair had made amends, though this again turned sour when she felt he was ‘being inappropriate’.
Ms Johnson said: ‘A few months ago he was saying hi to me and I was saying hi back. I said to him, “look, enough’s enough”, be a man about it.
Police confirmed they were aware of the incident, pictured, and that both parties have made allegations that are being investigated
‘I said we shake hands now and forget everything. He said he knew, and he was every so sorry and shook my hand.
‘But then he lifted up his top and said “do you think I’ve lost weight”. I told him to leave.’
Essex Police confirmed they had received multiple reports in relation to an ongoing ‘neighbourly dispute’ in the area.
A spokesperson for Essex Police said: ‘We are aware of a neighbour dispute in Clacton, following reports that a garden fence was damage in September 2016.
‘Both parties made counter allegations and we have informed them that the investigations have been filed, subject to further information coming to light.
‘We arrested a woman in her 40s in connection with an alleged theft in April 2016 and she was released without charge.’
The police appealed for anyone with any information about either of the incidents to contact them.