Mowed down by Hells granny!

Dream move, old lady next door - what could go wrong?

Published by: Jean Jollands
Published on: 7 March 2013

Trundling through the front door, my son Joe looked as miserable as a wet weekend. He was just back from school. Aren't they supposed to be the best days of your life?
‘What's up?' I frowned. ‘Has something happened?'
‘She's been telling me off again, Dad,' Joe, 12, sighed.
‘She says I'm not allowed to walk across her land.'
‘Not again,' I groaned. ‘This is just ridiculous.'
The she in question was our neighbour, pensioner Jean Glyde. With her twinset, pearls and sensible slacks, she looked like a picture of respectability.
She had a posh voice and all the airs and graces to go with it. In fact, she reminded me a lot of Hyacinth Bucket from the TV show Keeping Up Appearances.
We'd lived two doors down from old Hyacinth - or should I say Jean - for the last three years.
Me and my wife Jennie, 36, had long dreamed of setting up home in a country village, where we could enjoy a quiet life.
We kept cows, sheep, ducks and chickens on the land and I worked as a builder and farmer. My dad and grandad owned neighbouring farms, so it should have been the perfect set-up.
Recently, we applied for planning permission to build an extension to our converted barn and someone had mysteriously objected to the plans. Ever since then, Jean had become the bane of our lives.
Every morning, Joe walked down a long drive leading from our farm all the way to his school. The drive crossed over Jean's land but, as far as I knew, we all had the right to use it. Besides, it took a whole mile off of Joe's walk to school. Yet Jean always kicked off at Joe. She did the same whenever his brother Jac, 16, used the driveway, too. So, next time I ran into Jean, I hoped she would see sense.
‘Our family has the right to use the drive, too,' I pleaded.
But she still wasn't backing down. ‘I said stay off and I meant it!' she shrieked, before jumping in her four-wheel drive and zooming off.
Months went by and we soon found out that behind her posh exterior, she had a mouth on her that would make a sailor blush, telling my boys to clear off in no uncertain terms. ‘Just ignore her,' I reassured them. ‘I'm sure it will blow over.'
But still Jean carried on giving Joe and Jac grief every time she spotted them on the drive.
‘You'd think she would just get over it,' Jennie sighed one morning over breakfast.
She worked nights as a paediatric nurse and I put in long hours on the farm, too. But because of the bad blood with Jean, our life in the country didn't give us the peace and tranquility we'd longed for.
Then, one night, I was just dozing off to sleep at 10.20pm when my mobile rang. It was Jac. I knew he'd popped out to walk our lurcher Zola and hoped nothing was wrong. But when I answered the phone, my heart started pounding.
‘Dad!' Jac screeched down the phone. ‘Come quick. It's Jean, she's gone crazy.
‘She's in her car and she's got me pinned against the fence because I was on the driveway.'
Jennie was working a night shift, so I hurriedly dressed and ran round to Jean's.
When I got there, poor Jac was cowering against Jean's fence, Zola beside him. Her car had penned him in between the fence and a pile of yellow grit boxes.
Jean sat in the driver's seat, demented eyes shining in the darkness. Had she finally lost it?
I could hear her screeching inside the car. ‘You've no right to be on my land!'
She wasn't budging, so I ran to Jac and lifted the grit boxes away. I grabbed Zola as he squeezed out.
‘I was just walking across the drive when she came at me,' he panted.
Raw anger surged through me. She could have really hurt him.
‘You're an absolute psycho!' I raged.
‘Shut up!' she shouted, beeping her horn non-stop. ‘You're scum and all your family are scum.'
I wouldn't let her intimidate me. I started walking the length of her driveway, just to make a point.
Suddenly, I heard the revving of her engine. She wouldn't, would she...?
Spinning round, I watched as Jean began reversing backwards. But, seconds later, she put her foot down and now she was heading straight at me!
I was too shocked to budge. Surely she wouldn't knock me down, right here on the drive?
She was a 68-year-old granny for heaven's sake! Surely it was just a bluff?
But she careered manically towards me. Smash. The next thing I knew, I was thrown up on her bonnet against the windscreen!
When she finally braked, I scrambled off the bonnet and fell to the ground, shell-shocked, as I heard Jac on his mobile, telling the police to get here. My neck and right shoulder throbbed as I pulled myself up.
Then I heard it again - the revving of the engine. Now she was reversing back and coming at me at speed again!
Oh god, she was out for blood, ready to finish me off...
But raw pride made me stand my ground as she swept past me, my fingers brushing the side of her car.
But she still hadn't had enough. She drove at me a third time and I went on to the bonnet again, falling against the gates at the top of the drive.
Terrified, I used every last bit of strength to haul myself over her fence and into a neighbouring field, where Jac and Zola had already fled to safety.
The three of us ran home and soon the police arrived to arrest her. As I gave a statement, I felt so humiliated.
Me, a big, strapping farmer, felled by a deranged granny!
‘Poor you,' Jennie sobbed when she returned from the night shift. I had a golfball-sized lump on my right elbow and my back was bruised black.
I'd suffered injuries to my neck muscles and, because of the pain, I wasn't able to work on the farm for the next month.
I lost £5,000 because the hay I was supposed to collect was just left to rot. We ordered the kids to stay out of Jean's way, terrified of what she'd do next.
It meant Joe walking an extra mile each way to school, but we weren't taking any chances.
‘There's no telling what she might do next,' Jennie said. Not only was Jac terrified after that night's events, but Joe was really shaken when he saw my injuries.
Six months later, Jean Glyde pleaded guilty at Cardiff Crown Court to assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The court heard how she had been getting into her Hyundai Santa Fe to drive to a friend's house when she'd spotted Jac walking our dog on the drive.
Her solicitor Jennet Treharne said the incident had been totally out of character and that she'd just panicked.
‘She has always contributed to the community and is well thought of,' she said.
‘She was totally devastated by being arrested and held in police custody.'
As she awaited sentencing, Jean spoke out and denied opposing our planning application.
‘I wouldn't hurt a fly,' she moaned. ‘I've never had a parking ticket or a traffic fine in my life.'
Back in court, recorder Nicholas Gareth Jones described her actions as ‘reckless.'
He fined Jean £750 and ordered her to pay £1,200 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
But that was nothing compared to the terror I went through that night. Even now, I'm still in pain and doctors don't know if it will ever go away.
I can't work as fast on the farm, so I'm losing income and my family are still terrified.
We expected life in the country to be heaven, but we hadn't bargained on living next to the neighbour from hell.
Jonathan Tunley, 38, Cwmbran, Torfaen