A grieving widow claims her next-door neighbour subjected her to a ‘campaign of hate’ over a shrine she built in front of her home in memory of her husband.
Church volunteer Margaret Ilkovics, 57, had placed shrubs, ornaments and a memory box under a pussy willow tree in a communal garden as a ‘shrine’ to her late spouse Richard, who died of cancer at 54.
But neighbour Anthony Kenyon, 48, claimed the tribute at Regina Court in Salford, Greater Manchester, was a health and safety hazard and uprooted the 3ft tree, a court was told.
He is also alleged to have purposefully killed plants by spraying them in weedkiller and damaged ornaments by dumping them in a wheelie bin while Margaret was away on holiday.
Magistrates in Manchester were told Kenyon wrote the widow notes claiming she had a ‘bogus husband’, suggesting she only married him for his money, and accusing her of shoplifting.
He once ‘ranted and raved’ at Margaret through a window at his flat and phoned ambulances to her home wrongly claiming she had a severe mental illness and needed ‘taking away’, the court was told.
Margaret claims her neighbour left a note alongside her binned ornaments, which read: ‘Please find enclosed the funeral ornaments you placed without permission.
‘Said items I’m reliably informed are supposed to be placed indoors either side of an urn for example.
‘Whilst one appreciates certain individuals placing such items and all manner of other rubbish on graves, it is not acceptable in a domestic garden.
‘You have caused not only an affront to my religious beliefs but blocked access to the fire escape and wasted police time.’
She found it after returning from a holiday to Portugal with her sister, she said.
Kenyon faces charges of harassment carried out between September 2018 and February 2019, and assault on Margaret by throwing a dog toy at her. He denies all charges.
The court heard how Margaret and Richard married in hospital in June 2018 after he was told he was terminally ill. He died a month later.
The neighbours fell out following Richard’s death when Margaret set up the shrine on communal land outside their apartment building.
Margaret told magistrates: ‘Before Rick got ill we planted a little pussy willow in 2016 and after his death I put a few things that were a tribute to him – plastic hearts, flowers and such like.
‘The little heart had “sadly missed” on it and there was a little angel and a little heart with flowers that my friend gave me to put there. It was something to put there in honour of my late husband – it wasn’t a great big tribute it was just three little ornaments.’
She claimed Kenyon told her she could ‘do anything you want’ with the shared garden when he first moved into the flat, telling her: ‘I’m not into gardening.’
But as well as spraying weedkiller on her plants, Margaret claims Kenyon once smashed up a rose bush and trellis fencing, before uprooting her tree.
She said: ‘I felt very upset as it was about my husband and my husband was my life. It has affected me a lot.’
Another neighbour, Irene Williams, 66, told the magistrates: ‘The tree that Margaret’s late husband had planted was in the middle of a communal area and wasn’t doing any harm.’
Prosecutor Miss Beth Pilling said: ‘Mr Kenyon doesn’t dispute the calls being made or posting notes to the complainant.
‘The question is whether the calls and letters are harassing in nature or if he has a different agenda pointing out issues to the complainant.’
The trial was adjourned until next week when Kenyon is expected to give evidence.