Woman used barbed wire to keep walkers off public footpath then failed to help as her dog killed cat

A landowner who blocked walkers from using a public footpath near her home has been handed a criminal behavior order (CBO).

Frances Payne, 56, had padlocked a gate after accusing walkers of straying onto her land in Evesham, Worcestershire.

Kidderminster Magistrates’ Court heard she had attached barbed wire, chains and “keep out” notices to the gate and on one occasion had thrown a branch at two women who tried to open it.

Payne, who has appeared on Channel 5’s The Nightmare Neighbor Next Door, said the dispute at Hampton Mill arose after she was abused by walkers who “lacked common sense” and “knowledge of the Countryside Code”.

She was given community protection notices (CPNs) ordering her not to block off the footpath and was later charged with a string of offenses.

On December 14, magistrates found her guilty of displaying a sign with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress and failing to comply with a CPN.

She was also convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal after failing to help a cat being killed by her dog.

On Tuesday, Payne was handed a five year CBO and ordered to pay vets bills of £3,800 to cat owner Pauline Clarke, £100 each to two victims, prosecution costs of £1,000 and a victim surcharge of £22.

Sentencing, District Judge Ian Strongman said: “On June 20, two members of public found difficult to gain access.

“You put up barriers and were aggressive towards them – you threw a branch at them. They found a locked gate and you watched as they struggled to get over it, making them feel uncomfortable.

“The other offense was when your dog attacked a cat. Your dog inflicted grave injuries on the cat and it was crying in pain. It was fatally injured by your dog.

“When you left the scene, you left the cat in pain and did nothing to help. As a consequence, Mrs Clark found her cat dying in the street and spent £3,800 in vets’ bills. It later died.

“I am going to put you under a criminal behavior order for five years, so you don’t interfere with the public footpath.

“This means that you should not be abusive or behaving in an aggressive manner towards any member of the public making use of the footpath within the area of ​​Hampton, Evesham.

“Also, that you must not place any obstructions, such as wire, on any public footpath, or block off any exit and entrance points.”

Payne had said she put up the fencing last April after what she described as “constant” problems, including drug taking, assaults, thefts and vandalism.

She also said her livestock was being released deliberately, claiming she had seen a man lurking around the estate with bolt cutters.

But despite insisting she was acting to stop trespassers she was hit by a succession of community protection notices to prevent her from blocking the path.

Two locals, Anne Farley and Kate Gartner, told the court how they were left “shaken up” after being abused by Payne for trying to get through the barrier.

“We don’t wish to take that route anymore,” they said.

“We enjoy walking. It is a shame that this one person has this effect on so many people.”

The court also heard how Mrs Clarke was left “devastated” after her cat died.

The padlocked gate at Hampton Mill in Worcestershire

For the prosecution, Sarah Hurd said: “Pauline Clark says she found her cat in a terrible state; the cat was sadly put down.

“She said ‘it has left me devastated, we were a team and now we’re not, I’m lost without him’.”

Forz Kahn, defending, said Payne had applied to the council to reroute the public footpath.

He said: “She locked it so her sheep could not escape onto the highway. She closed the gate. She has now applied to local authority to reroute the path so her livestock are not in danger.

“That locking of the gate was for hours, not days. When she was asked to open, she did.”

Speaking afterwards outside court, Payne said she planned to appeal the ruling.

“I will not give in to people who abuse other people’s land,” she said.

“Over the years, I have had 97 different crimes on my property. The police have not acted, so I told people to leave the property myself for trespassing. Some will not leave though.”

She added: “I have never ever insulted anyone on the public footpath whatsoever. I get regular dog walkers who happily walk down there.”

“There has been a new estate been built nearby – they do not know the Countryside Code.”

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