Attention to detail
Keeping full and accurate records is vital in the event of a court case, says Amy Gibbs, solicitor at Devonshire’s
Circle 33 recently obtained an outright possession order against a tenant who had been convicted of cultivating cannabis in his home and had repeatedly harassed and intimidated a neighbour, Ms N.
While the defendant had no other option but to admit growing cannabis in his home due to the criminal conviction, he denied harassing Ms N. The defendant alleged that he simply had a strained relationship with Ms N. He said this was because he had complained about noise nuisance coming from her flat and that when he had complained to her, Ms N had invented or exaggerated his conduct.
Ms N gave compelling evidence that, over the years, the defendant had repeatedly disturbed her by banging and slamming his front door and shouting up to her flat. She described having to ‘tip-toe’ around her home in order to avoid giving the defendant an excuse to knock on her door and hurl abuse at her.
Before giving his judgement, the judge said he was struck by the ‘considerable detail’ of Ms N’s evidence, both in the witness box and within her contemporaneous diary records. Given the significant detail, he found that it would be unlikely that she would have invented the allegations. By comparison, the defendant had not produced any substantive, contemporaneous records regarding his complaints about Ms N.
An easy decision
The judge said the defendant’s behaviour towards Ms N amounted to harassment and intimidation and that the defendant had failed to show any remorse for his actions. Given the cumulative effect of the defendant’s sustained treatment of Ms N and its detrimental effect on her health and well-being, the judge decided it was reasonable to make an outright possession order.
During the delivery of his judgement, the judge said Circle 33 had ‘behaved entirely properly in its attempts to explore both sides’. Circle 33 had effectively followed its anti-social behaviour and harassment policies by acknowledging complaints early on, investigating them and arranging interviews with the defendant and Ms N. Though the defendant did not turn up each time, Circle 33 persevered.
When the defendant was asked in cross-examination why he did not attend the interviews, he could not give any reasonable explanation and his version of events became less credible. Circle 33 had made very detailed attendance notes during interviews with Ms N and this also impressed the judge.
This case demonstrates that taking a balanced and objective approach throughout and encouraging all concerned, staff and complainants, to make detailed contemporaneous records, is extremely important. While such actions may be time consuming, later on such information may become vital in persuading a judge to grant the result you desire.