Academic, 74, admits harassing neighbour, 73, after she played Sinatra’s My Way too loudly

The Four Percent


A retired academic is facing jail for making her neighbour’s life a misery for 25 years – after they fell out over her playing Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ too loudly.

Dr Elizabeth Hall, 74, was hauled before a court charged with harassment after a bitter dispute stretching back decades with Christine Penny, 73, turned ugly.

The pensioner claims the row first broke out when Mrs Penny began belting out the 1968 Frank Sinatra hit from her home at Melville Hall, in leafy Edgbaston, Birmingham, in 1996.

Since then the pair have been at loggerheads with accusations flying both ways.

Hall is accused of bombarding former hotel owner Mrs Penny with 52 emails in just a six-week period, which led to her starting to take anti-depressants.

On Monday, she appeared at Birmingham Crown Court for sentencing after she previously pleaded guilty to harassment and breaching a restraining order.

A retired academic is facing jail over a dispute going back 25 years - after they fell out over her playing Frank Sinatra's 'My Way' too loudly. Dr Elizabeth Hall, 74, was hauled before a court charged with harassment after a bitter dispute stretching back decades with Christine Penny, 73, turned ugly

A retired academic is facing jail over a dispute going back 25 years – after they fell out over her playing Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ too loudly. Dr Elizabeth Hall, 74, was hauled before a court charged with harassment after a bitter dispute stretching back decades with Christine Penny, 73, turned ugly

However the case was adjourned for another month after Hall failed to co-operate with the Probation Service and claimed she would be appealing the convictions.

Representing herself, Hall, who entered court in a wheelchair, told the ten-minute hearing she didn’t have enough money to afford a lawyer and would rather go to prison.

She said: ‘I haven’t got lawyers and it’s a very complex case but I just can’t afford to pay somebody to come to court for possibly 10 minutes.

‘I don’t have the funds and I don’t qualify for legal aid so I’m afraid I will just have to fight my way through it.

‘I am entitled to defend myself.

‘The probation service never rang me and didn’t contact me and I don’t want to be subjected to probation.

Frank Sinatra's hit My Way allegedly sparked the dispute

Frank Sinatra’s hit My Way allegedly sparked the dispute

‘But I was told this was the point to appeal after this hearing and the magistrates. I shall be appealing and I want to appeal against everything.

‘I am however quite prepared to talk to probation but I don’t wish to accept probation as part of any sentence but they did not phone me.

‘I’ve been described as a neighbour from hell, that is what I’m dealing with.’

Judge Roderick Henderson agreed to adjourn the case and said: ‘I’m going to adjourn the case for a month.

‘I’m going to direct the prosecution to confirm whether there has been any allegations of further trouble since May last year.

‘As that will make a very big difference in terms of sentencing if there’s not been any trouble for a year. This will need to be gone into in any event.

‘If you are going to appeal against these convictions you must do the paperwork straight away.

‘You are already out of time as the limit is three weeks.

‘I can tell you for sure if you’re back next month without the paperwork or permission to appeal a judge will carry on with sentencing.’

Hall, a doctor of science who was once accused by the BBC of helping students cheat, has lived in her flat for 26 years.

She shares the property with friend Jane Jones who suffers from multiple sclerosis and has continually protested her innocence.

Grandmother-of-four Mrs Penny said her life has been made a ‘living hell’ by Hall, who branded her ‘nasty’, ‘evil’ and a ‘mad monkey’ in the letters posted through her door.

Mrs Penny, who is also a mother-of-two, added: ‘It’s just been one problem after another.

‘This has been going on since 1996 for a quarter-of-a-century.

‘The row over playing Frank Sinatra is just one part of a bigger problem. I have lost count of the times I have had the police out.

‘When it started Tony Blair wasn’t Prime Minister and Lady Diana hadn’t died – that’s how long this has been going on for.

‘One of my neighbours moved out because of her. My daughter stopped bringing her children here because of her.

‘I have had my plants pulled out, she sits on her balcony with a cigar just looking at me sometimes.

The woman have been neighbours at Melville Hall, in leafy Edgbaston, Birmingham, since 1996

The woman have been neighbours at Melville Hall, in leafy Edgbaston, Birmingham, since 1996

‘I don’t know how many notes I’ve had in total, I’ve lost count. Other times she would just place notices around the flats about me.

‘Some of them just say I’m a nasty person, or that I’m evil and she even called me a mad monkey.

‘When the police collected the notes they found they had been typed on her machine and she had handwritten the addresses, so they knew it was her.

‘I just want to put it all behind me. It has been a living hell.

‘She has accused me of spitting on her door, throwing pasta on her balcony, stealing her Christmas decorations – it is all complete nonsense.

‘She accuses me of everything and anything, the only thing she hasn’t accused me of is setting her on fire.

‘I get on with everybody here, I don’t know why she has targeted me.

‘She is obsessed with hatred towards me and it is hounding.

On Monday, Hall appeared at Birmingham Crown Court for sentencing after she previously pleaded guilty to harassment and breaching a restraining order

On Monday, Hall appeared at Birmingham Crown Court for sentencing after she previously pleaded guilty to harassment and breaching a restraining order

‘She truly believes these things. And if she doesn’t go to prison, she won’t stop.

‘I can’t believe it has been adjourned again as this case alone has been going on for three years.

‘I’ll be very glad once its all over.’

But speaking outside court, Hall said of Mrs Penny: ‘We’ve been neighbours since 1996 and she’s upstairs from me and I’ve had a lot of aggravation from her over the years. 

‘I was firstly irritated about something and she took it the wrong way.

‘But what’s been the key to it is over the last couple of years she won’t open the door so if anything happened you had to send her a note.

Grandmother-of-four Mrs Penny said her life has been made a 'living hell' by Hall (pictured), who branded her 'nasty', 'evil' and a 'mad monkey' in the letters posted through her door

Grandmother-of-four Mrs Penny said her life has been made a ‘living hell’ by Hall (pictured), who branded her ‘nasty’, ‘evil’ and a ‘mad monkey’ in the letters posted through her door

The case was adjourned for another month after Hall failed to co-operate with the Probation Service and claimed she would be appealing the convictions

The case was adjourned for another month after Hall failed to co-operate with the Probation Service and claimed she would be appealing the convictions

‘And she’s claimed she’s being harassed and took the notes to the police.

‘If the police would have looked at them properly they would have cleared them but it went to the CPS.

‘And then I was arrested in May 2019 when the police smashed my door down as she had supposedly received some letters.

‘I thought they were letters put together by my friends and supporters but it turned out they had been put on my machine and there was forensic evidence.

‘I’ve lost all my employment as I used to be a top end academic ghost writer. 

‘It’s been hell for me and for my housemate it’s just been hell.’ 



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