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AU Couple awarded $150,000 compensation after months of harassment by neighbours

Property Here - Sunday, May 26, 2013

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Mud spattered on this Underwood home was part of a long campaign of neighbourhood harassment.

A COUPLE had mud thrown at their house, dirt and broken concrete dumped in their yard and suffered months of harassment from neighbours - all because of a boundary fence dispute.

Dragan and Vesna Bilic became so stressed they eventually sold their house in Underwood, on Brisbane's southside, at a loss of $73,000, which a judge said was because of the actions of their neighbours.

District Court Judge Ian Dearden on May 17 ordered neighbours Andrew and Sharyn Nicholls and their home owner to pay the Bilics $155,573.

It included $30,000 exemplary damages to reflect the court's attitude to the Nicholls' "appalling conduct".

The trouble started after the Bilics and the Nicholls, who once happily lived side by side in Charlane St, got into a dispute over the demolition of a small block dividing wall.

The Nicholls lived next door in the house they were buying from a Taiwan-based owner Jimi Lee, who was solely found liable because of his role as the property owner.

The Bilics, who earlier had moved out of their house and rented it to a tenant, told the court the relationship turned sour after the Nicholls forced them to demolish the dividing block wall and tried to get a new retaining wall built at their expense.

The Bilics claimed they were subjected to trespassing on and destruction of their Charlane St property, to threats and repeated unfounded complaints to the council and police.

They also told how the Nicholls, who did not attend the District Court trial, harassed their tenant of two years, who moved out, a real estate agent and prospective buyers.

Mr Bilic told the court Mr Nicholls used a digger to excavate one to two metres into his property, then dumped mounds of soil and concrete on his property and dobbed them into council over the mess.

Mr Nicholls also threw mud at the Bilics' house and yard, the court heard.

The judge accepted nuisance acts against the Bilics included continual surveillance by the Nicholls, a threat by Mr Nicholls to kill them and 30 to 40 unwarranted complaints to council about their property.

Judge Dearden concluded there was "substantial and malicious" interference with their property rights. He said the Nicholls also interfered with attempts to let or sell the property for 10 months.

The stressed Bilics, both 53, eventually sold their property, valued at $408,000, for only $335,000. "We went through months of hell. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy," Mrs Bilic said last week.

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