St Albans pensioners convicted after lashing out over parking spaces

The pair appeared in court

The pair appeared in court - Credit: Archant

A long-running dispute over parking led to an octogenarian and her elderly husband being convicted in court last week of assaulting two neighbours in their seventies.

Megchelina Smith, 84, of Stanton Close, St Albans, was found guilty of assaulting neighbours Anastasia and Gerald Insley and her 72-year-old husband Peter Smith was convicted of assaulting Gerald Insley during the same incident in September last year.

Both pleaded not guilty at St Albans Magistrates’ Court last Wednesday but were convicted after a two-day hearing. They were conditionally discharged for 12 months, ordered to pay towards Crown Prosecution Service costs and pay a victim surcharge.

Another charge of using threatening, abusive and insulting words to another neighbour, Natalie Jones, was dismissed.

Mrs Insley, 72, who is being treated with a cancer drug for a rare auto-immune problem, said this week that the assault which had resulted in her neighbours appearing in court followed years of problems with the couple culminating in disputes over parking in the Jersey Farm cul de sac.

On the day in question Mr Smith had come up to their house and when Mrs Insley opened the door to him, he swore at her and accused her of parking her car illegally. She asked him to go home and closed the door

Mrs Smith then joined in the abuse over their claim that the car was illegally parked. Mr Insley, 73, walked to where Mrs Smith had left her walker to demonstrate there was plenty of space to get round the car.

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As he walked back to the house past Mrs Smith, she slapped him around the face and grabbed his glasses. He tried to make light of it by making a comment about the garden and they started to pull flowers out of pots and tipped over two large planters.

When Mrs Insley intervened and again told them to go home, she was also slapped across the face and her glasses knocked off. A neighbour tried to intervene and pull Mr and Mrs Smith away from the garden and eventually both the police and a paramedic arrived.

Mrs Insley who, like Mrs Smith, has a disabled permit parking bay, said the recent problems all stemmed from their neighbours’ camper van which was parked outside the houses in the cul de sac and had caused difficulties for neighbours - to the extent that the couple had been unwilling to move it even for Mrs Insley’s disabled permit parking bay to be painted on the road.

Of last September’s incident, which had ‘shaken up’ her husband and herself, she said: “It had never got to physical violence before, only verbal abuse.”