Kennels owner tells of noise row conviction’s ‘terrible’ impact

PUBLISHED: 16:33 18 February 2020 | UPDATED: 09:09 19 February 2020

Sharon Tidnam at Low Farm Boarding Kennels. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Sharon Tidnam at Low Farm Boarding Kennels. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

A woman appealing a conviction for failing to stop dogs in her kennels barking and annoying her neighbours said the case had had a “terrible” impact on her.

Sharon Tidnam was convicted on June 26 of breaching a court order made the previous year to halt noise nuisance from her boarding kennels at Low Farm, Topcroft, near Long Stratton.

Mrs Tidnam was ordered to pay £3,000 compensation to her neighbour Matthew McNiff and left with a £93,000 legal bill.

Mr McNiff of Manor Farm, Rectory Road, had made recordings of dogs repeatedly barking on his iPhone.

Taking the stand for the first time at King's Lynn Crown Court, Mrs Tidnam was asked by defence counsel Saba Naqshbandi how the case had affected her.

"It's been terrible," she said. "I don't sleep, I've lost weight, it's upset me so much."

Mrs Tidnam said in evidence she had lived at Low Farm for 43 years. She said in 1988, her husband had suggested starting a boarding kennels in a redundant pig sty on the farm.

Mrs Tidnam said she had received no complaints until Mr McNiff and his wife Sarah did so in 2016. She said until then, the couples had been close friends.

Recordings of barking dogs made on iPhones were produced in evidence during last June's trial.

But on Tuesday, the court heard recordings made on the devices were enhanced to "maximise" the sound available.

Acoustic engineer Steven Gosling said: "It's like brightening up a photo using an auto filter, it's not a copy of what existed."

He added in tests he had carried out the device performed a "very substantial level of enhancement".

But under cross examination by Miles Bennett, for Mr McNiff, Mr Gosling agreed the tests had been carried out on a different variant of the iPhone to the models used to record the dogs barking.

And Mr Gosling agreed while the phone might tamper with the evidence, it would not make it up.

Mr Bennett said recordings made on the phones corroborated Mr McNiff's log of dates and times when he had heard barking.

"If the dog isn't barking at all, the iPhone doesn't invent a bark, does it," he said.

The case, before Judge Philip Shorrock, continues on Wednesday.

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