Swaffham woman, 83, cleared of damaging neighbour’s van as magistrates conclude CCTV ‘wasn’t clear enough’
An 83-year-old woman has been cleared of damaging a neighbour’s van after magistrates ruled a covert camera installed at her home did not clearly show what happened.
Beryl Byrne, of Whitsands Road, Swaffham, stood trial in Lynn today, accused of causing more than £2,000 of damage to a vehicle owned by her neighbour, Ronald Hyder, last May.
But, after around two hours of evidence, magistrates found her not guilty and said the lack of clarity in the footage was crucial.
The court was earlier told that Mrs Byrne had agreed to a police request for the camera to be put in place, following a series of incidents in the area.
Town PCSO Paul Bailey said he had identified Mrs Byrne from the CCTV.
But chairman of the bench John Rockliff said: “The real essence of the case is that the CCTV doesn’t have a good enough resolution to see clearly what is going on.”
Mrs Byrne had denied damaging Mr Hyder’s Mercedes van on the afternoon of May 10 last year, even though she conceded CCTV footage showed her both passing the vehicle and stopping, before turning round, midway along.
She insisted that, although she had run her hand along the side of the vehicle, the damage she was accused of causing had already been done.
She said she had not considered Mr Hyder an enemy and, when it was suggested to her she had committed the damage, replied: “Not at all.”
But Corinne Soanders-Silk, prosecuting, told the bench Mrs Byrne’s account of what happened became “very vague” when she was pressed for more detail.
She said: “Mrs Byrne has caused this damage. The evidence is clear.”
Mr Hyder said he had alerted police immediately on seeing the damage, which he discovered during a stop at his home before delivering goods to a site in London.
However, Alison Muir, for Mrs Byrne, argued the damage could have been done at any time between when Mr Hyder checked the van the weekend prior to the incident and the moment it was discovered.
She said her client had no motive to cause the damage and insisted there was no sinister motive to her lack of memory of some aspects of the incident.