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Neighbours’ dispute results in JAIL for Perth grandma, 86

A neighbourhood row over a boundary line escalated into an extraordinary tit-for-tat that landed a great-grandmother in a maximum security prison.

Anne O’Donnell, 86, and her neighbour Kate Wood, 56, were once friends before becoming embroiled in an ugly dispute over a patch of dirt between their adjacent homes in Perth.

A war of words escalated when the pair began spraying each other with garden hoses, before the stoush spiralled out of control.    

‘I just don’t like her anymore. I can’t stand her, and I think, “why did I help her in the first place?”,’ Ms O’Donnell told A Current Affair.  

The women fell out over a patch of dirt between their two front yards earlier this year.

Ms Wood claims the patch is her land, but for years Ms O’Donnnell has been watering it and treating it as her own.

When rubbish was dumped on the strip of land, an infuriated Ms O’Donnell removed lavender plants on her rival’s property. 

‘I’ve got to stick up for myself, if I don’t then who’s going to,’ Ms O’Donnell said.   

CCTV footage showed Ms O’Donnell tearing up the row of about 10 plants one-by-one. 

The incident left Ms Wood furious.  

‘I have no children. I treat all my plants like my children. If anybody damages plants, I feel very sad,’ she said.  

Ms O’Donnell said she heard her distressed neighbour crying when she discovered her flowers had been dug up.

‘Well I thought, “you did this to me, I’m going to pay it back.” I know it’s wrong, I do know that, I should not have done it, but I just lost it,’ Ms O’Donnell said.

After that incident, the row turned ugly. 

Kelly, Ms O’Donnell’s adopted granddaughter, claimed Ms Wood became menacing. 

‘Every time Nan is out the front she comes up the front and says she’s threatened to kill her… she come right up to my face too,’ Kelly claimed. 

‘She goes nuts, runs around the front yard with her. Now they’ve got cameras installed, but before that it was with her mobile phone, running around recording them.’

But when Ms O’Donnell was caught on CCTV using her garden hose to spray Ms Wood, the grandmother was arrested for repeatedly breaching a misconduct order. 

She spent six days in a maximum security jail in a legal aid bungle before eventually being granted bail.

When the matter was heard at Rockingham Magistrate’s Court last month, the grandmother was found ‘unfit to plead’ because of Alzheimer’s disease and was released without a conviction recorded. 

But Ms O’Donnell wasn’t allowed home for four months.

‘I get kicked out of my house and the trouble maker can still stay in her house,’ she said.

But Ms Wood turned to her hose when A Current Affair reporter Renae Henry arrived at the cul de sac to investigate. 

Ms Wood threw a brick at camera crews before drenching them with her garden hose.

‘You cannot take video of my home, I will complain if you don’t leave,’ Ms Wood told the camera crew.

Police arrived shortly after to talk to a heated Ms Wood.

She later calmed down and spoke with the reporter.  

‘Until now I did nothing wrong, this is the only thing that make me feel very, very bad,’ Ms Wood said. ‘Why we need to be enemy? I never want to treat her bad.’

According to council documents, Ms Wood’s land claim about the boundary line is correct. 

She now wants to extend an existing fence as far as possible at her own cost.  

Western Australian Attorney-General John Quigley said he suspects Ms O’Donnell, who is Indigenous, would have never been put in jail if she was white. 

‘I am deeply concerned that a woman in her 80s with dementia was held in prison cells for almost a week without the option of bail,’ he told the West Australian in July.

‘I have to ask myself whether an elderly white woman with dementia in a wealthy suburb would have found herself in prison in such circumstances.

‘We need to ensure our state is not jailing Aboriginal people needlessly, particularly those who are vulnerable.’ 

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