Here’s a curious case I wrote about years ago on a personal blog. It’s strange enough to warrant repeating here.
Background: For 20 years, 60-year-old Bill Squires and 75-year-old Anna Squires maintained a close relationship with their neighbor, Mary Fitzpatrick. In 2006, however, Ms. Fitzpatrick passed away and her son, David, became the Squires’ new neighbor.
Details: Friction between the Squires and David began shortly after Ms. Fitzpatrick’s funeral. The Squires had lent photos of Ms. Fitzpatrick to David for display at the funeral and, despite multiple polite requests, the Squires’ photos were never returned. The neighbors’ relationship continued to deteriorate and when the parties disagreed over the care of a strip of grass between their properties, the feud – which could have once been classified as a neighborly dispute – escalated to passive-aggressive outbursts and death threats.
Particularly disconcerting was the morning of November 12, 2007, when the Squires stepped out of the front door of their home to find a dead coyote on the hood of their car. The Squires reported that, when they walked out and saw the horrifying scene, David appeared to wait patiently nearby in his own vehicle. When they looked at David, he drove away slowly, while displaying a satisfied grin on his face.
Outcome: Reportedly, the “first strain” (over the Squires’ photographs of Ms. Fitzpatrick) was amplified due to David’s already-existing feud with his sister, Shelley, over their mother’s estate. When the severity of their situation with David escalated, however, the Squires pressed charges.
The Squires reported the coyote incident to the police and provided video and audio recordings that captured David threatening the Squires. In response, David turned himself in (although he denied having anything to do with the dead coyote) and he was arrested for harassment.
When police officials lost the Squires’ video and audio recordings, the Crown decided not to proceed to trial and the charge against David was withdrawn. The Squires sold their home and moved on with their lives; meanwhile, David filed a civil suit against the Squires and his sister, Shelley, for “malicious prosecution and conspiracy”. Ironically, it was after David had started the new action and the Squires made a counter-claim that the Court finally heard the Squires’ case.
David’s original claims were dismissed and Judge Stinson of the Ontario Superior Court found that David was responsible for leaving the dead coyote on the Squires’ car and that he intentionally aspired to inflict mental distress on the Squires. The judge ordered David to pay the Squires over $166,000 in damages, a lifetime ban of contact with the Squires, additional costs to cover the Squires’ extensive legal fees, and additional funds to cover Shelley’s costs.
Curious about the Case? Check it out for yourself: