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Thursday, 28 August 2014

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Ex-Carlisle mayor's life wrecked by nuisance neighbour

Former Carlisle mayor Jacqui Geddes says her life has been “wrecked” by a nuisance neighbour.

Phillip Cochrane photo
Phillip Cochrane

Builder Phillip Cochrane, of Harker Park Road, Harker Park, Carlisle, was found guilty after a trial at the city’s magistrates court of harassing Mrs Geddes

He had denied the allegation that he deliberately shone his work van headlights – on full beam – into Mrs Geddes’ house during the early hours.

Cochrane, 55, was given a one-year community order, which requires him to complete 180 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £350 compensation and prosecution costs of £650.

Speaking after the case, Mrs Geddes said: “I was an absolute wreck. I’ve got severe anxiety, depression, I’ve had vertigo for five months and I’m having counselling and reflexology. Imagine being woken up in the middle of the night, seven days a week even Easter Sunday. This has had a massive effect on my life. I never thought I would be a victim.

“I wouldn’t wish on anyone what I have had to go through in the last six months.”

Mrs Geddes, a Conservative city councillor for Stanwix, was Carlisle’s mayor in 2008-9.

A light abatement notice has also been imposed on Cochrane following her complaints.

Convicting him, District Judge Gerald Chalk said: “This was an ugly incident, and was deliberate harassment.”

He imposed a restraining order banning Cochrane from turning on his full-beam headlights on any vehicle he drives while parked on the driveway, and facing a specific address, during the hours of darkness. Mrs Geddes said she thought the sentence was “appropriate”.

The court heard that the harassment took place between December 18 and April 26, waking Mrs Geddes on numerous occasions. Prosecutor John Moran said Mrs Geddes had “suffered extreme stress” causing her health problems.

He continued: “She has had to have counselling, her mind is a blank on occasions.”

The situation became so bad Mrs Geddes had to install a CCTV camera to record Cochrane’s actions.

Helen Wallace, defending, said her client did not deliberately shine the headlights on Mrs Geddes’ bungalow.

Cochrane claimed he carried out a routine inspection before going to work, putting the van’s lights on to do so. Because he works throughout Cumbria and further afield, he sometimes leaves as early as 4.30am.

The court also heard about a dispute between the pair involving an unpaid bill for £4,000, for work Cochrane had carried out for Mrs Geddes. She was unhappy with it and refused to pay. The unpaid invoice case is being dealt with in the civil courts.

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