Landowner who used razor wire to stop walkers using footpath convicted

Landowner who used razor wire and chains to stop ramblers using public footpath near her home and appeared on Channel 5’s ‘The Nightmare Neighbour Next Door’ is convicted of a string of offences including intent to cause harassment

  • Frances Payne, 55, blocked the path near a beauty spot near her Evesham home
  • She was found guilty of failing to comply with a community protection notice
  • She also failed to help a cat which was being attacked by her dog on the path

A landowner who used razor wire and chains to stop ramblers using a public footpath near her home has been convicted of three offences by local magistrates.

Frances Payne, 55, who appeared on Channel 5’s The Nightmare Neighbour Next Door, blocked the path near a beauty spot by her home in Evesham, Worcestershire. 

A cat was even set upon by her dog during the furore which broke out earlier this year which she blamed on newcomers who ‘lacked common sense’ and ‘knowledge of the countryside’.

Frances Payne, 55, who used razor wire and chains to stop ramblers using a public footpath near her home has been convicted of three offences by local magistrates

The landowner claims she has been repeatedly sworn at and even physically attacked by walkers who stray onto her land. Pictured: The closed footpath

Despite claiming she was acting to stop vandalism and illegality, she was hit by a succession of community protection notices to prevent her from blocking the public footpath. 

Kidderminster Magistrates has upheld three of the complaints against her, while finding her not guilty of wilfully obstructing the highway and breaching six community protection notices.

They agreed she had failed to comply with a community protection notice by blocking the footpath with a locked gate on June 13 this year.

She was also found guilty of displaying a sign with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress on June 20 and of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.

The latter offence occurred on May 14 when she failed to help a cat which was being attacked by her dog.

She blocked the footpath running beside her Hampton Hill home in Evesham, Worcestershire, with barbed wire, chains and ‘keep out’ notices

The footpath runs close to Mrs Payne’s home at Evesham, Worcestershire

Magistrates imposed on her an interim Criminal Behaviour Order which prohibits her from being abusive or aggressive to any member of the public using the footpath near her home in Hampton Mill.

The order also forbids her from blocking the footpath and places a requirement on her to remove any obstruction that appears.

In the summer, Mrs Payne told Channel 5 that a new housing development was the source of the problem.

She said: ‘It is very new build and like a little town in itself. The people who live there are from all sorts of areas.

‘I’ve noticed quite a lot of accents from Birmingham, Wolverhampton, I don’t think they have necessarily had experience of farm land, the countryside. The estate is causing a problem.

Mrs Payne had said there are ‘very few’ people’ who used the footpath (above) ‘without a problem’

‘Years ago people would come through here, have some common sense and know about the land and people living here. They’d appreciate it and we would be fine with that.’

Her allegations against members of the public included littering, people riding motorbikes and bicycles, climbing on fences and fishermen turning up without licences.

She even claimed a pony had been shot with an air rifle and said that a failure to act would have endangered her flock of sheep who would be liable to escape through a gate left open by ramblers.

But locals have accused her of acting in an extremely aggressive way and of lying to justify her behaviour.

Barbed wire seen by the footpath which has been blocked by Mrs Payne in Evesham

Notices were attached to a fence blocking the footpath through Hampton Mill, Evesham

A notice on a gate to the footpath noted it was ‘temporarily closed due to surface damage’

One internet poster wrote: ‘Here we have the latest round in the Frances “I’m always the victim” Payne fiasco, I will time how long it takes for her to respond to this latest round of her lies, trying to justify her foul behaviour with more lies will one day catch up to her, after all it’s “common knowledge” that she is deliberately trying to close a PRoW (public right of way) by foul means and many more lies.’

Mrs Payne who says she feels protective towards her property as it was where she grew up, said at the time the furore broke: ‘That barbed wire has gone up because, in my mind, it is closed.

‘It is my land. I am aware it is probably illegal to shut a footpath but it is also illegal to attack and assault people.

Pictured: Hampton Mill, which is nestled beside the blocked footpath in Evesham

The footpath runs close to Ms Payne’s home in Evesham, Worcesterhire

‘It is also illegal to incite people and have a mob culture.

‘As a 55-year-old woman I have to guard my own safety and that of other people on that track.

‘It has got far too toxic and I have every right to defend my own health and safety. I don’t feel I have a choice.’

Magistrates, however, disagreed and acted to keep allowing the public access to the footpath near her four-bedroom house.

Mrs Payne, who was not in court for the hearing, will be sentenced on February 1 next year.

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