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Music producer ‘broke restraining order’ with dead rat in neighbour’s recycling

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n award-winning TV director found a dead rat in his recycling and had to cope with water pouring through the ceiling in an alleged nuisance campaign by his neighbour, a court heard.

Misha Manson-Smith and his wife, author and lifestyle blogger Alexandra, say their family life was disturbed by a string of incidents caused by Mark Arthurworrey, the owner of the freehold to their building in Dalston.

It is said there were repeated incidents of banging and scraping on the floor above, building waste was left the Manson-Smiths’ recycling, and Arthurworrey is accused of changing locks at their shared building.

Mr Manson-Smith, who has worked on TV shows for Amazon and Netflix, said he found a maggot-riddled dead rat among the recycling when they returned from a family holiday, and had to replace smoke alarms in their child’s bedroom due to water damage.

Wood Green crown court at Hendon heard how the Manson-Smith family eventually moved out of the property, but the incidents attributed to Arthurworrey continued to afflict their tenants.

Arthurworrey, 69, a music producer who has worked with the likes of Aswad and Earth Wind and Fire, is now on trial, accused of 18 breaches of a restraining order imposed in 2017.

He denies any wrongdoing, offering reasons for all of the incidents complained of by the Manson-Smith and insisting he never breached the restraining order.

Jurors heard the Manson-Smiths, who have two children, bought the leasehold for the basement flat in 2014 and moved in two years later, following extensive renovation work.

“The freehold of the entire building is owned by the defendant Mark Arthurworrey – he is not living at the building but would visit from time to time”, said prosecutor Rebecca Foulkes, who told the court an independent property manager was appointed by a tribunal in 2016 after “issues arose” between the neighbours.

Arthurworrey was hit with a restraining order in March 2017, banning him from contacting the family, entering their front or back garden, and making noise that would interfere with their home life.

Ms Foulkes said the Manson-Smiths reported several incidents of “banging” and “scraping” in 2018, including once when their eight-year-old son was “upset” while reading in bed.

When the family went on holiday in summer 2018, Mr Manson-Smith says he was alerted to someone in their garden by a CCTV sensor linked to his phone, and they found a ladder in the garden when they arrived home.

“They immediately noticed there were a lot of paint scapings around the property, showing work had been carried out while they were away”, said the prosecutor.

“When Mr Manson-Smith view the CCTV footage, he could see building work had been carried out. He also saw that one of the builders had placed a dead rat into the recycling bin for their flat. When he checked the bin, it was still there, the council had not taken it away, and it was filled with maggots by then.”

It is said Arthurworrey removed spikes from an upstairs windowsill at the property, which allowed pigeons to roost and defecate on the Manson-Smith’s patio area, and he is accused of being responsible for several incidents of water leaking through the ceiling.

On November 7, 2018, Mrs Manson-Smith says a smoke alarm went off in one of her children’s bedrooms, and she could see “water dripping from the smoke alarm sensor”, said Ms Foulkes.

Mark Arthurworrey covered his face as he left court

/ ES/Tristan Kirk

Jurors heard Arthurworrey is accused of instructing a solicitor to make allegations of fraud against Mr Manson-Smith, and also make allegations that his neighbour was unlawfully blocking access to the back garden.

“On August 15, 2019, as a result of what had been going on, the Manson-Smiths decided to move out of their flat”, said Ms Foulkes.

But she told jurors the alleged breaches of the restraining order did not stop, with the family’s tenants also complaining of water leaking through the ceiling and Mr Manson-Smith finding in May 2020 that a padlock to the back garden had been changed without his consent.

In the final alleged breach of the restraining order, Arthurworrey is accused of installing gas and soil pipes which damaged the guttering at the Manson-Smith family home.

The prosecutor said the independent property manager “took the view the soil pipe work was done extremely poorly, causing the guttering to partially collapse”, and workmen hired to fix the damage could not get access to the building due to Arthurworrey’s contractors being on site.

Arhurworrey was interviewed twice by police and submitted written answers to questions on a third occasion, deny any wrongdoing.

He blamed the water leaks on plumbing work that was being carried out at the upstairs properties, and told police he had taken steps to fix the problems and restore power to the building.

He said he had taken advice from the Wildlife Trust when dealing with the pigeon problem, treating their nests and eggs sensitively, and insisted he “couldn’t be held responsible for their mess”.

Arthurworrey denies making false accusations against his neighbour, and asserted his right to carry out essential maintenance work on the building which he said did not constitute breaches of the restraining order.

He added that he was unaware of the actions of builder, and did not know a dead rat had been put into the recycling.

Arhurworrey, who lives in Worthing, denies 18 charges of breaching the terms of the restraining order. The trial continues.

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