Exe Street residents 'petrified' by nuisance neighbour
A WOMAN is facing eviction from her home after police and council officials say she has persistently blighted the lives of "petrified" city residents.
Officers say those living near the property in Exe Street, St David's, have suffered months of anti-social behaviour at the hands of Karen Walton and her 22-year-old son Robert.
Police issued a closure notice at the property, banning anyone from entering the flat apart from Mrs Walton and her son.
The house could be closed for three months, boarded up and the Waltons removed from the property altogether if a police application to Exeter Magistrates' Court next week is successful.
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Police say neighbours have been forced to put up with numerous incidents of "shouting, swearing, fighting and other noise complaints".
One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Echo: "We have had to endure thumping music day and night, screaming, shouting and fighting – it has been a total nightmare.
"It has been like this since they moved here in May.
"The only way I can describe it is that I used to love my life, I loved my home and now I won't come home unless I have someone with me because I am afraid. We just want to live in peace.
"If I had the possibility of moving I would, but that is not possible. We are stuck. I'm strong about it one minute and petrified the next."
Another resident, who also asked not to be named, told the Echo: "I just want them to be moved away. I just want Exe Street to go back to what it was. It goes beyond what you can accept as a neighbour."
Exeter City Council said it is seeking possession of the property after "continued breaches of her tenancy agreement".
Mrs Walton was sentenced to three months in prison, suspended for 12 months, for breaching an anti-social behaviour injunction against her – action brought at Exeter County Court last week by the city council.
Mrs Walton and her son Robert appeared before Exeter Magistrates' Court this week for a hearing of the police's application for a closure order.
Representing Devon and Cornwall Police, solicitor Chris Rendell told the court: "This is an application under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003. The background to this is that there was a closure notice served on the property that took place on Sunday.
"The effect of the closure notice is to prohibit entrance to the property by everyone other than the two respondents to this application.
"If the closure order is wholly made on the property, the effect would be to board up the premises completely prohibiting entrance to everyone. Nobody could go in that property.
"This could last up to three months and potentially it could be extended up to six months."
The application hearing was adjourned until Wednesday, October 31, to enable the Waltons to apply for legal aid.
Magistrates extended the closure notice, which prohibits anyone except Mrs Walton and her son Robert entering the property, until the next court hearing.
PC Chris Liesk, neighbourhood beat manager for St David's, told the Echo that their action was to "protect" neighbours from further anti-social behaviour.
He said: "Police served a closure notice on the property in question in Exe Street on Sunday evening after receiving many complaints from the community about anti-social behaviour in the area.
"Incidents of shouting, swearing, fighting and other noise complaints had been reported to the police and the action taken was to protect the residents from suffering further anti-social behaviour until the matter is resolved."
A spokesman for Exeter City Council said: "The police are applying for a closure order. If this is successful no one would be permitted to access the property for up to three months.
"We are currently undertaking possession proceedings against Mrs Walton for continued breaches of her tenancy agreement.
"Last week, we were in court as a result of a breach of the injunction that we also have in place, which requires Ms Walton to abide by the terms of her tenancy agreement.
"This action resulted in Mrs Walton receiving a three-month prison sentence suspended for a year."
The Echo approached Mr Walton for a comment, but at the time of going to press, there was no response from either Mrs Walton or Mr Walton.