CHERIE Blair’s stepmother has pleaded guilty to taking and dumping her neighbour’s £10 bin in a long standing dispute with her neighbour in a West Yorkshire town.
Stephanie Booth, 60, who is the Mayor of Todmorden, was caught on CCTV loading the sand bin into her car before disposing of it at the local tip.
Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that for four years, she and David Morgan who live in adjoining properties in Robinwood Terrace, Todmorden, have been in dispute over land boundaries.
Things came to a head when Mrs Booth - who is the fourth wife of Mrs Blair’s father, Till Death Us Do Part actor Tony Booth, was caught on Mr Morgan’s CCTV loading the bin into her car.
Mr Morgan told the court that problems began after Mrs Booth’ extension in the outhouse that they both shared - which had once served as toilets for the terraced properties - was built and she began to move his bins.
The court was told that Mrs Booth’s outlet pipe from the extension overhung David Morgan’s property who had two bins including a blue sand bin positioned there.
Mr Morgan had refused to move the bins because he claimed they were on his property yet Mrs Booth continued to move them citing that her pipe would get damaged.
Mrs Booth initially denied the offence on December 4, 2014 and the matter was listed for trial.
But after hearing evidence for almost an hour and a half Mrs Booth pleaded guilty to the charge.
She was given an absolute discharge by the district judge.
It will not affect her position as a councillor or mayor and there was no order to pay the £620 prosecution costs.
Giving evidence, Mr Morgan told the court that police and council officers had been involved in the long-running dispute.
He said: “We saw Mrs Booth driving up in her car and lifting the tub into the back of hers and taking it away.”
He said that when the bins were moved he “simply moved them back”.
Mrs Booth, who is the carer for her husband Tony, 84 who has dementia and chronic heart failure, claimed that she was left with no other option but to move the bins.
But Mr Morgan said he had wanted to “put my bins where I like”.
He denied that he had carried out “a campaign of bullying” against Mr and Mrs Booth when it was put to him by defence solicitor Malcolm Nowell.
For the prosecution Mr Robert Campbell told the court: “The dispute is the defendant moving the bin from time to time moving it elsewhere, the complainant putting it back. It culminated in the defendant utterly removing the bin, she was seen on CCTV in the area to load the bin into a car and drive it away, take it to the local scrap yard.”
But Mrs Booth was said to have “shot herself in the foot” after Mr Morgan replaced the bin with an even bigger one and this time containing stones.
Mr Nowell suggested to Mr Morgan: “As long as you are not inconvenienced you want to put the bins wherever you want. That I’m afraid is the problem, is it not, for four years you have carried out a campaign of bullying against Mrs Booth and her husband.”
Mr Morgan replied: “No that’s not true, I have not carried out a campaign. The bin came first. The pipe came second.”
Through her solicitor, Mrs Booth, who paid her own legal costs, said that she could not use the tap when the bin was there and was concerned that the bins may damage her pipe.
Mr Nowell told the court that it had “spiralled out of control”.
“She felt she had no other option than to deal with the matter in that way.”
The court heard that previous grievances between the neighbours included blocking each other in with cars, and Mr Morgan knocking down a stone wall on Mrs Booth’s property.
During the case and after hearing details, District Judge David Kitson told Mrs Booth there would be an absolute discharge for a guilty plea.
He said: “This is not a civil court, it’s not my function to resolve a neighbourly dispute.”
After discussions Mr Nowell said that she was prepared to enter a guilty plea adding it was “a very unhappy case”.
He said: “She is committed to caring for her husband who is seriously infirm. This is a matter she has to shoulder herself.” She was anxious to “achieve harmony”.
After the case Mrs Booth said that the case had “drained” her.
“This has attacked my whole sense of who I am. I’ve been utterly humiliated. I think the whole thing is a bit stupid. All he was asked to do is to take a couple of inches off my pipe. I look after someone elderly and frail, if the pipe is broken I can’t use the washing machine.
“If you look at the justice system, why on earth are they spending thousands of pounds on a case like this.”