‘Raver’ grandmother is sued by neighbour for ‘blasting 90s dance tracks at 2am’: Businessman claims woman has turned £750K home into ‘living hell’ by ‘blaring music to punish him’ amid feud over ‘unpleasant smells’ in shared building
- Heather Akinwinmu, in her 50s, of Brixton, London, denies playing rave music
- Neighbour Dominic Hyde, 57, says his life is being made a ‘living hell’ by noise
A ‘raver’ grandmother is being sued by her downstairs neighbour who claims life in his £750,000 flat has been made unbearable by her ‘bass-heavy 90s dance music’.
Heather Akinwunmi, who is in her 50s, is said to blare loud music as a ‘weapon’ to punish neighbours Dominic Hyde, 57, and his wife, who say they are trapped in a ‘living hell’.
Mr Hyde, who runs a PR firm, insists he has been forced to quit his bedroom and retreat to a mattress in his living room in Brixton, south London
He says the arrangement has lasted two years and has led to ‘long periods of sleep deprivation’.
On one occasion, he claims Ms Akinwunmi retaliated after an argument by playing loud music on loop – leaving her property for 48 hours while the music rang out continuously.
Heather Akinwunmi, who is in her 50s, is said to blare loud music as a ‘weapon’ to punish neighbours Dominic Hyde, 57, and his wife who say they are trapped in a ‘living hell’
The neighbours live in this Victorian house (pictured) in Brixton, south London, which was converted into two flats in the 1970s. Ms Akinwunmi lives on the upper floor while her neighbours are underneath
But Ms Akinwunmi is fighting the harassment and nuisance accusations and told a judge the pounding dance music cannot be hers – because she has more ‘gentle’ tastes and only listens to Capital, Choice and Heart FM.
She claims her neighbours are being overly ‘sensitive’ to the noise of everyday life in a building with poor sound insulation, and that she ‘can’t do anything without them complaining.’
Judge Alan Saggerson, sitting at Central London County Court, heard the neighbours live in a Victorian house which was converted into two flats in the 1970s.
Giving evidence, Mr Hyde – who runs a PR company with his 49-year-old wife – said they had initially been on good terms with their upstairs neighbour, who is in her 50s, but ‘things changed.’
Over more than 10 years, the father-of-two and former estate agent said the family’s life had been made into a ‘nightmare’ or a ‘living hell’ due to their neighbour’s behaviour.
Convinced that the Hydes were to blame for unpleasant smells entering her flat upstairs, she had embarked on a campaign of harassment, using noise to ‘punish’ them.
The court was played more than a dozen video clips, taken by Mr Hyde over several years as examples of the noise he says the family have had to put up with from their neighbour.
One of them was taken at 2am when he said Ms Akinwunmi had put on thumping dance music and then gone outside and sat on a wall opposite with her dog.
An argument then ensued, during which she accused her neighbours of making her flat smell and told Mr Hyde: ‘If I’m not going to sleep, you’re not going to sleep.’
Dominic Hyde (pictured), 57, and his wife, who run a PR firm together, say they are ‘at their wits’ end’ and concerned for their health due to ‘long periods of sleep deprivation’
On another occasion in 2017, she had ‘put the music on and walked out’ and did not return for two days, he continued.
‘Music was played non-stop for 48 hours and she said she was doing it for revenge,’ he said.
‘Her logic was that she was saying we were putting smells through her floors.
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‘We weren’t doing it at all and we couldn’t convince her we weren’t. We had no way of remedying this.’
Other videos featured the repeated deep bark of her eight-and-a-half stone bull mastiff Steel, stamping feet and loud noise caused by plumbing problems in her flat, said Mr Hyde.
He claimed she kept them awake by using her washing machine at night and ‘deliberately’ dropped heavy items on the floorboards to wake him and his wife up.
The family had resorted to ‘tip-toeing’ around their flat, living ‘like monks’ in order to avoid making any noise which might trigger a response from their neighbour.
Mr Hyde said he had given up trying to sleep in his bedroom and retreated to a mattress in the living room, where he has been sleeping for the last two years.
‘It has destroyed us. That’s how we live. We live in silence,’ he said, and added: ‘We want to be left alone and have a quiet life.’
The couple’s barrister, George Woodhead, told the judge that they are ‘at their wits’ end’ and concerned for their health due to ‘long periods of sleep deprivation.’
But although their main complaint was about noise, there had been other acts, such as Ms Akinwunmi repeatedly pouring ‘huge quantities’ of dirty bathwater out of an unconnected pipe in her first-floor flat and into the Hydes’ garden.
Mr Hyde had also been shocked to discover fleas were ‘pouring’ through his ceiling from Ms Akinwunmi’s flat above, although she said a vet had confirmed her dog had no fleas.
‘So far as Mr and Mrs Hyde are concerned, they and their young family have been plagued by the harassment, nuisance and annoyance of Ms Akinwunmi for over a decade,’ said Mr Woodhead.
‘It has had a detrimental effect on their health and livelihoods beyond the disruption of sleep and everyday enjoyment of their flat.
‘They come to court desperate for a remedy which will give them peace and respite from her un-neighbourly and, at times, malicious conduct.’
The Hydes are asking for a court order to ban Ms Akinwunmi from causing them noise nuisance, as well as a £30,000 damages payout.
Giving evidence, Ms Akinwunmi blamed noise transmission in the Victorian house on woeful sound insulation, which she said is not her fault, but the fault of the local council in Lambeth, which converted it into two flats in the 1970s.
The flats are separated only by floorboards, joists and a single sheet of plasterboard ceiling and experts had agreed that the sound insulation is terrible, with one describing it as like ‘living in a drum.’
Noise emanating from her flat was actually heard louder in her neighbour’s apartment than in hers due to the structure of the building, experts said.
But Ms Akinwunmi claimed that her neighbours are being overly ‘sensitive’ to noise, and added: ‘I can’t do anything without them complaining.’
When played a video featuring loud thumping dance music, she denied that it could be hers, because it was not to her more gentle taste.
‘I don’t play that sort of music,’ she told Judge Saggerson.
‘I don’t listen to songs like that. I listen to Capital, Choice and Heart FM.
‘I don’t accept that that music is coming from my flat.
‘It’s only the radio that plays, I don’t play music in the night.’
She claimed water discharge into her neighbours’ garden was down to them refusing access to allow the plumbing to be fixed, while a leak had been caused by a gas engineer fitting a boiler in her flat.
Her barrister, Elizabeth Fisher, told the judge there was ‘clear animosity’ between the neighbours and that Ms Akinwunmi had felt ‘intimidated’ at times by Mr Hyde.
‘This situation is so poor that Ms Akinwunmi will aver that whatever noise is heard, Mr and Mrs Hyde will immediately look to blame her, rather than looking at the matter objectively,’ she said.
‘They have a heightened and growing sensitivity towards noise, particularly noise emanating Ms Akinwunmi’s flat.
‘The animosity between the parties and heightened sense of emotions have further cultivated their sensitivity.’
The judge will deliver his ruling on the case at a later date.
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