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Chagford man kicked classic car in neighbour dispute

A FEUD over septic tanks and planning led to a retired shopkeeper kicking out at his neighbour’s classic Morris Minor car.

Andrew Hopkins claimed that neighbour Janet Tibbetts and her husband drove at him near their home near Chagford and he had lashed out as an instinctive defensive reaction.

There had been a history of ill feeling between the two families and both had made complaints to the police about the others in the past.

The Morris Minor was being driven by Mrs Tibbetts’ husband and she had set up her mobile phone on the dashboard to record the trip.

The footage showed Hopkins but did not capture his kick, which caused a tennis ball-sized dent to the side of the car which cost £180 to repair.

Former grocer Hopkins, aged 61, has moved away from Devon and gone to live in Leeds since the incident in October 2020.

Hopkins, of Haven Gardens, Leeds, denied criminal damage but was found guilty by Exeter Magistrates and conditionally discharged for 12 months and ordered to pay £180 compensation and £793 costs and surcharge.

Mrs Tibbetts said she saw Hopkins standing close to the driveway as they left in her classic 1954 car, which she described as her ‘pride and joy’. She and her husband are members of the Morris Minor owners’ club.

She said her husband honked his horn as he drove towards him and they then heard a thump on the side of the car.

She said she set up the camera in the car, and another at their home, because of past problems. Her footage was shown to the magistrates.

She told magistrates there was no damage to the car before they left that day and they had looked it over when they washed it the day before.

She said Hopkins was standing across the road and her husband ‘pipped the hooter’ to alert him that we were coming past on the A382 which she called a dangerous and busy road where there have been fatal accidents.

She said she heard a thud as they drove past him and told her husband: ‘He has just kicked my car. I could not see him do it but I could hear the thud.’

Under cross examination Mrs Tibbetts admitted she was expecting some sort of trouble to happen.

Defence lawyer Warren Robinson said parping the horn was not necessary and asked how many times she had set up her phone to film from the dashboard – and she said they were told to record any issues with Hopkins.

Her husband said he beeped the horn as Hopkins had moved towards the car.

Hopkins said in his evidence that the Tibbetts drove at him and he lifted his leg in a defensive action but denied kicking the car.

He said: ‘He was really close. It was a defence gesture done in a fraction of a second. It was a kneejerk reaction.’

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