Women fined again after continuing to fail to tackle mouse infestation

Tuesday, 11 October, 2022
Mice in welly boots

A court has fined a woman for failing to tackle a mouse infestation at her home, following a prosecution by Tendring District Council (TDC).

Margaret Manzoni, 73, was taken back to court for not complying with notices served by the authority relating to her property in Clacton Road, St Osyth.

Magistrates had fined Manzoni back in April after she admitted charges of failing to comply, and the court then told her to meet the terms of the environmental health orders or face further penalty.

During a hearing at Colchester Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, 6 October, Manzoni pleaded guilty to charges of failing to comply with a notice under the Environmental Protection Act; and failing to comply with a notice under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act.

She was fined £1,500 for the first offence, with no separate penalty for the second offence. The court also imposed a £150 victim surcharge and awarded costs to TDC of £2,395. In setting the fine magistrates took into account Manzoni’s personal situation, and highlighted that clearance work would need to also be paid for.

The court told Manzoni that her actions had not helped the situation; and while it respected her beliefs as an ethical vegan, others saw mice as vermin and the impact of the infestation on neighbours meant inaction was not appropriate.

Magistrates also reminded her that TDC wanted to help, and advised her to work with the authority using their knowledge and expertise.

The court had heard how TDC’s Environmental Health team had first been called in by neighbouring residents who were over-run by mice – causing property damage – due to the conditions at Manzoni’s middle-of-terrace home.

Council staff made several visits and offered help, before issuing notices ordering Manzoni to stop feeding birds, to clear the overgrown garden, and call in pest control. While some building works were carried out by the council, food and shelter continued to be provided by Manzoni for the mice – leading to an overpowering smell and which forced neighbours to move out.

TDC offered Manzoni alternative accommodation but, she considered the mice her pets, said they would not go to her neighbours because she looked after them, and refused to take action stating it went against her “ethical beliefs”.

This led to the first prosecution, since which despite continued regular visits by the Environmental Health team nothing has changed; leaving the council no choice but to prosecute again.

Michael Talbot, TDC Cabinet Member for Environment, said the council had to take action in situation such as these where it was impacting on others.

“Prosecution – in this case for a second time – is a real last resort, but despite repeated visits, offers of help, legal notices, and the previous court action, nothing has been done by the property owner,” Councillor Talbot said.

“We respect people’s personal beliefs and how they choose to live in their homes, but when this has a detrimental impact on others then we have no choice but to take the necessary steps to ensure everyone’s quality of life.”

Last updated on: 11/10/2022 - 11:05