Most Read

Top stories


81-Year-Old Woman Tormented Her Neighbors For Years With Her Parrot's Loud Singing, Forced Them To Listen To 'Seven Hours Of Continuous 'Toy Story''

81-Year-Old Woman Tormented Her Neighbors For Years With Her Parrot's Loud Singing, Forced Them To Listen To 'Seven Hours Of Continuous 'Toy Story''

The victims of a neighbor from hell told how she used used her singing parrot to torment them - and even forced them to listen to "seven hours of continuous Toy Story."

They said they only went to the police because they were "at their wits end" about how to cope with the constant harassment by their next door neighbor Catherine Searle.

Searle, 81, was issued with a restraining order and a suspended jail sentence over her relentless campaign of harassment that her next door neighbors says began 16 years ago in 2004.


Searle was caught on CCTV 38 times rubbing grease on the couple's cars, placing nails under their wheels, and throwing dog poop on their property.

On one occasion during her three year campaign of harassment she scratched the hood of a Toyota with a ring she was wearing.

As well as encouraging her pet parrot to sing loudly to disturb the Appletons' peace and quiet, she also played the popular Disney film Toy Story on a loop at top volume.

Her victims described the bird's operatic repertoire as "Chinese torture."

Married couple Paul and Lydia Appleton, both 61, say their plans for relaxing summers in their garden were ruined by the pensioner.


Speaking about the ordeal, John said:

"On one occasion she had 'Toy Story' being played in her kitchen on a continuous loop. It was being played really, really loud.
"She was over in her other neighbor's garden have a drink and laughing."
"It was just noise. I'm guessing it was about seven hours of continuous 'Toy Story'."

The former police officer explained how taking the matter to court was a last resort.


He said:

"They have said in court that this all started since I got here, which is absolute nonsense. It might have gotten worse, but not as a result of me coming here."
"I am a former Detective Inspector with 30 years of service. My last job was protecting victims of domestic violence, hate crimes, and child abuse. It's absolutely not in my DNA to be someone who causes problems for someone else."
"My whole approach to this lady has always been 'Can we sort this out? Can we end this animosity?'"

The couple say relationships with other neighbors have deteriorated because people on the outside can't believe an old woman could be the problem.


Probation officer Lauren Packham, who interviewed the pensioner, said:

"I've spoken to Mrs. Searle and it's clear she doesn't fully accept culpability."
"She believes she is as much a victim in this neighborly dispute."
"She says the grease on the vehicle was the result of her falling, but she only made reference to one occasion, not multiple."

John added:

"The problem we have got, because she's an old lady people want to believe the lies they are told: 'Because she's an old lady, we should respect her.'"
"I try to be nice, but she doesn't deserve any kind of respect. Our ultimate aim is just to enjoy some nice peace and quiet - that's absolutely it, and we just cannot have it."
"We went to the police because we were at our wits' end. The police asked us to prosecute and we said 'We don't want to be the bad guys here. Give her a caution, give her a telling off, and hopefully that will stop things.' But it didn't."
"This has come to court because we had nowhere else to go."

Lydia, who used to work as a counselor, said the ongoing harassment has damaged her mental state and made her paranoid.


She said:

"I'm on my nerves all the time now because we have had our vehicles tampered with: things like tires let down, glass put under the wheel, tacks put under the wheel, wheel-nuts loosened, so looking on CCTV when we saw a pattern of behavior."
"I'm now living on my nerves - I'm hyper-vigilant. I'm thinking every time I hear a noise now I'm looking out the window like 'What was that?'"
"My mental health has gone through the roof, I'm stressed - seriously. I've had it ever since I've moved in on my own as a single lady. She seems to have taken an instant dislike. I shouldn't have to live like this."

She added:

"I feel nervous for my husband when he's on the road, I'm in fear of what might happen, he could be hurt or cause a terrible accident."
"He has to go through a daily routine of checking the wheels to make sure there are no tacks and nothing has been tampered with."

John added:

"How can we move, we've got to declare it. We have to disclose it to anybody who's interested in the house."
"Why should we move? Because we're the victims of crime? That's proven. We can handle the animosity."