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Published Friday, 02 November 2018

A Northampton woman will have to pay a total of £615 in fines and costs after being found guilty of breaching an abatement notice served for excessive dog barking at her property.

In 2016 Northampton Borough Council investigated reports of noise nuisance at the home of Joyce McFarlane in Bladon Close, Northampton.

Following this, in May of that year, she was served with a section 80 abatement notice under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 for excessive dog barking.

In August 2016 McFarlane was again investigated and found to have breached the abatement notice and in January 2017 she was fined £200, with costs of £1,000 and a £30 victim surcharge.

At the same time, a  Criminal Behaviour Order was made against her which required that she have no more than 11 dogs and:

  • Not replace the dogs as they die, with the eventual maximum being three
  • Not allow more than three visiting dogs at the address for more than a maximum of 48 hours
  • Inform the council of any change in ownership of the dogs.

Further complaints were received in March, May and June the same year which resulted in further investigations and the execution of a warrant, during which Council staff found a higher number of dogs.

Further visits were made to witness the noise from within the complainants’ property and recording equipment was used between 4 January and 8 January 2018.

Cllr Mike Hallam, Northampton Borough Council Cabinet member for environment, said: “At one point, over the period of 20 minutes, a staggering total of 642 barks were recorded.

“This is simply not acceptable and we use all of the tools at our disposal to support residents who have to put up with this kind of nuisance.

“We will continue to monitor the situation where necessary in a bid to ensure this kind of noise nuisance is not repeated at this address, or anywhere across the borough.”

During a hearing in June 2018 McFarlane pled guilty to breaching the Criminal Behaviour order, but not guilty to breach of the Noise Abatement Notice.

She was summonsed to Wellingborough Magistrates’ Court on Monday 22 October where she was found guilty on eight counts of breaching the abatement notice.

She was sentenced to eight weeks in prison, suspended for a year, and a community sentence with ten rehabilitation activity days. She was also ordered to pay £250 compensation to the victims plus £250 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.

The financial elements are to be added to the existing outstanding fines to be paid off at £5 per week. There is a further hearing on the 7 January 2019 to review the conditions of the Criminal Behaviour Order.

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