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case no:CO/0281/94 ...
case no:CO/0281/94

A woman who claims that the noise which drove her neighbours to distraction was an ageing washing machine on spin mode and not a powerful air compressor, has failed to clear her name in London's high court.

Hester Dutch, of Leeder Close, Coventry, was in January 1993 convicted by Coventry magistrates of breaching a noise abatement notice.

But she maintains that her neighbours' complaints of an air compressor operating at her home on August 27, 1992, was in reality the death throes of an old washing machine.

Mrs Dutch took her case to the high court after Coventry Crown Court rejected her appeal against the magistrates' decision.

But Mr Justice Potts said he could not fault the Crown Court's decision that she was guilty beyond reasonable doubt of breaching the abatement notice issued in 1991.

He upheld the two year conditional discharge imposed on her by the magistrates along with a £250 legal costs order payable at pnds sterling three each week.

The court was told that Mrs Dutch's neighbour complained to Coventry City Council, claiming to have endured years of noise and vibration up to five days a week.

Lorraine Bartholomew claimed the vibrations had cracked the ceilings in her bathroom and bedroom.

A noise abatement notice was issued in July 1991, after which a powerful air compressor which had been at Mrs Dutch's home was sold.

But on August 27 1992, Mrs Bartholomew claimed she was again assailed by noise from Mrs Dutch's home from mid-morning until 11.30pm.

John Burgham, also of Leeder Close, works with compressors and also complained to the council that one was operating at 17 Leeder Close.

Mr Justice Potts said that Mrs Bartholomew and Mr Burgham had each been played a recording of a washing machine at the magistrates court hearing on January 14, 1993.

He said Mrs Dutch had, 'contended that it was for the prosecution to prove that the source of the noise was an air compressor.

'She submits that there was no evidence that the noise was emanating from an air compressor, or that the evidence was so tenuous that no magistrates could have come to the conclusion that she had a case to answer.

'Mrs Dutch alleged that the noise was caused by a washing machine operating on spin drying mode.

'The central finding of fact by the magistrates was that the noise was not a washing machine.'

'I am satisfied that, having heard the evidence adduced on behalf of the prosecutor and having analysed the evidence given on behalf of Mrs Dutch, that Coventry Crown Court was fully entitled to find the case proved against her.

'In these circumstances, it is quite impossible to say that decision was unreasonable or irrational.'

His fellow judge, Lord Justice Rose, agreed, adding: 'Mr Burgham works with compressors and said the noise he heard sounded like a compressor. The Crown Court rejected claims that the noise was caused by a washing machine.'

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