Woman ‘murdered untidy neighbour because mess prevented her from selling house’

A dispute over an untidy garden escalated into murder, a court was told today.

Prosecutor Alan Blake described how Debby Foxwell, 40, developed a "hatred" of neighbour Louise Lotz, 64, over the course of many years. The pair allegedly clashed over Ms Lotz’s overgrown garden and "cluttered" home.

Eventually, according to evidence given today, the disagreements boiled over into violence.

Mr Blake said “It was a sustained, brutal and merciless attack.

“At around 8pm on a late summer’s day last year, after a day of tension and disputes over the fence, this defendant went to her shed in her back garden and picked up a spade."

He continued: “She walked through her house, number 10, and kicked open the door of number 8 in a furious rage. She used a spade to smash electrical items in the lounge before pursuing her neighbour, who made a run for safety.

“Louise Lotz got to the front door of number 6. Debby Foxwell caught her and repeatedly bludgeoned her with a spade, before causing catastrophic injuries to her head.

"The sustained ferocity of the attack and the number of blows make it plain she intended to kill her and she succeeded in doing so.”

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The court heard how the pair were in some ways incompatible neighbours, with Ms Foxwell’s garden immaculately kept, while Ms Lotz was described as “something of an untidy hoarder.”

From 2015 onwards, a number of arguments between the pair were reported to the police by both parties, while Ms Foxwell was prosecuted for assault and criminal damage in 2016.

Ms Foxwell's husband Paul died of cancer the same year and by 2019 she was in a new relationship and hoping to sell up and move house.

Mr Blake said: "She blamed Louise Lotz, rightly or wrongly, for not being able to sell her property.”

Giving evidence, Ms Lotz’s lodger, Liam Graham, told the jury: "Debby had a spade in her hand. She said ‘Where is she?’ I said ‘Who?’ She said ‘You know who.’ I said: ‘I don’t know where she is.

“She was swinging the spade from side to side. She put the spade through a great big plasma TV and smashed a laptop into a million pieces."

Mr Graham said Ms Foxwell then said: "There is the b****" before attacking her as she knocked on the door of number six for help.

He added: “I was close enough to hear everything. I was screaming at her to stop.

"I tried to intervene once. She turned and said ‘You best stay out of the way if you know what’s good for you.’”

He claimed Ms Foxwell walked off and later allegedly said to her partner: “It’s over. I have done it.”

Ms Foxwell denies murder but has pleaded guilty to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility.

The trial continues.

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