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Fright of the opera: residents driven to despair by neighbour's loud singing

PUBLISHED: 06:00 03 May 2018 | UPDATED: 15:38 03 May 2018

Paul Burford, who lives on Stuart Gardens and has made complaints about Heather Webb.

Paul Burford, who lives on Stuart Gardens and has made complaints about Heather Webb.

Archant

Fed-up residents say a woman banned from singing loudly inside her Norwich flat sounds more like a "drowning cat" than an opera performer.

The flats in Stuart Gardens where Heather Webb sang loudly. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe flats in Stuart Gardens where Heather Webb sang loudly. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Heather Webb was served with a 24-month Criminal Behaviour Order on December 5 last year, banning her from singing at a volume which can be heard from outside her property.

But Norwich Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday how the 48-year-old, of Stuart Gardens, on Saint Faiths Lane, breached the order three times in January and February this year.

Giving evidence, one witness, who lives two storeys above Webb’s ground-floor flat, said she was watching TV on January 8 with her headphones on when she heard the defendant.

“I could hear screeching and screaming,” she said.

“When I first heard it, I took my headphones off and went to the window to make sure that [Webb’s flat] was where the noise was coming from, and it was. It comes from that flat constantly.”

She said Webb was “screeching” from 11.15am to 11.50am that morning.

The court heard how Webb started again the following day between 11.10am until 11.30am.

Paul Burford, who lives 40 metres away from Webb’s property, but in the same complex, told magistrates he heard her “erratic opera singing” on February 7 this year at 8.30am.

He said: “She sounds like a drowning cat to be honest.”

He told the court he downloaded a mobile phone application which records noise and then sends it through to the local authority.

One of his recordings of Webb’s singing was played to magistrates.

Webb, who did not appear in court and was not legally represented, had pleaded not guilty to the three breaches of her order.

Prosecutor Nicola Pope said Webb was interviewed by police on February 12.

She said: “During the interview she stated she could not recall if she was singing on the 8th of January. She said she couldn’t remember that far back. When asked about the 7th of February she said she has gone to great lengths to close her windows and amend things.”

Magistrates found Webb guilty of breaching the behaviour order on January 8 and 9, as well as on February 7 this year.

They issued a no bail warrant for Webb’s arrest.

The criminal behaviour order imposed against Webb prohibited her from engaging in conduct which causes alarm or distress. It also banned her from playing music, singing, shouting or creating noise at a volume which can be heard outside of her property.

The order was granted on December 5, 2017.

The history of the case

The inter-neighbour feud began around four years ago, according to residents.

It started with Webb’s neighbours filling in anti-social behaviour sheets and sending them to the council.

The police then got involved in late 2014, after the council issued Webb with a Community Protection Warning and advised other residents to call the 101 hotline if the noise disturbances continued.

But after fed-up residents complained about Webb’s operatic behaviour once again in the summer of 2016, the council revealed that no further steps had been taken against the woman.

In December 2017, Webb was issued with a 24-month Criminal Behaviour Order, banning her from singing at a volume which can be heard from outside her property.

Residents have continued complaining however, including on a special council app called Noise, and Webb was interviewed by police on February 12 ahead of yesterday’s trial.

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