The intimidation was getting worse and taking on a physical side. We were now constantly being waylaid as we went out and came back home. Friends visiting were also subjected to the Thomases unwelcome presence as they had to stop to open the gate. Karen Thomas was spending a lot of time in the right of way area and was now constantly either filming us or taking pictures over our gate. She was also videoing anyone arriving to visit as they drove down the right of way. Our local farmer had been threatened. He had been told not to cut our fields and three of his tyres on his land rover had been cut.
Our friendly farmer had come again to turn the hay. He stayed and had a cup of tea with me, and asked if I would open the gate the Thomases had erected at the top of our right of way as the lane was now too narrow for him to get out of his tractor. I had gone ahead of him and opened the gate. As he drove out Karen Thomas was waiting for him in order to take pictures of him.
I began walking back down the right of way when I was aware Karen Thomas was following down behind me. I then felt a huge push into my shoulder which knocked me into the metal crash barriers. As I recovered she was standing in front of me blocking my way. Her very threatening body language, hands on hips, was shocking. She refused to move out of my way. When I asked her to move out of my way and never to do that to me again her response was "what are you going to do about it". I naturally felt very threatened and scared by her as there was no-one else around - I was totally alone again, and I knew the police would say there were no witnesses. I was awaiting a hip operation at the time and this was appalling behaviour to be assaulted in this way, and clearly the nature of the intimidation had taken on a different tone. She warned me to stay out of her business, then stepped aside and allowed me to walk down to my gate. I reported this to the police but as I expected I was told 'it's your word against hers'. Again, if the police had asked to view her CCTV cameras they would have seen exactly what had occurred, but they declined my suggestion.
Eddie was constantly being confronted in the right of way as he left for work, as he stopped to open the top gate - a gate which had been installed to make life difficult for us. One particular morning as Eddie was walking back to his car after opening the gate to drive out, the neighbour was as usual in the right of way and deliberately barged into him knocking him into his car. This behaviour was completely alien to us. As we didn't have any security, but did have a camcorder, I took to filming Eddie driving out each morning. In the evening, he would stop and telephone me when he was close to home, and again I would film him driving back in. What had our lives become? This camera was thus far our only witness, but would hopefully deter the neighbours from these physical threats in our right of way. We had no other way out of our property and this couldn't go on.
Beer bottles and beer cans were now appearing on our fields along with old knuckle bones. Sheep skulls were hung on branches of trees around our boundary. We felt impotent and at our neighbours mercy. I had begun to believe there was some other reason the police were not giving us any support. Having made contact with a barrister and a race relations director in Cardiff they both confirmed the police should have been doing more to help us, especially as there was a history of aggressive and threatening behaviour towards others before us. We were becoming desperate for help.
Andrew Thomas had taken to tailgating us as we drove out, and on this day drove his HGV within feet of our small car. I was terrified. We felt compelled to drive faster and faster to get away from him. It was the wrong thing to do but when feeling under such threat knowing we had no support from anyone, flight instinct takes over. The first chance we had, we swerved off the road, at speed, and let him drive past us. His conduct was menacing, and of course again, we reported it to the police. The police said they were logging these incidents but no action as yet could be taken because it was our word against theirs. This was the theme. When we spoke to our kindly ex police officer over these matters he was adamant that this was wrong. He said the police do not require witnesses when there is a clear pattern of behaviour and should have been at the very least warning the neighbours. I had always believed the police protected people against this kind of dangerous behaviour, but in our case they weren't. The feeling of isolation just kept growing.
Our lives were a total misery and we were suffering in the same way as the two families before us had suffered. Not only were we now abused on a regular basis but we were still having to contend with the noise from industrial machinery, maintenance on HGVs, horrendous noise from the constant quarrying and the many other disturbances to our quality of life. It was obvious that Blaenpant was being developed for an ever expanding industrial business - with zero planning permissions and we were suffering the consequences of it.
We had by now logged a long list of incidents with the police but still no intervention nor help from them, even though they were aware of the nature of the neighbours and their intimidation and threats to others. Carmarthen Council were continuing to deny the existence of the obvious haulage business and the many other industrial operations from a site within meters of our home, even though there was an abundance of evidence to warrant enforcement and most certainly applications for change of use to industrial. It appeared that the neighbours had the support of all local authorities and we had none. It certainly felt that way and was a very lonely place to be in. Our plans had to be put on hold and our future was exceedingly bleak. We had no chance of getting away from this nightmare situation.
It was a Sunday and I had driven to the post box which was about a quarter of a mile away to post letters. As I was returning the neighbours drove past me in the opposite direction. Karen Thomas gesticulated at me from the passenger seat, but I was relieved at least I didn't have to contend with name calling as I entered my home. I had no longer opened the gate at the top of our right of way, than the neighbours were driving back down towards me. They had followed me back home. I was taunted and then assaulted for a second time. Statements were taken and eventually I was the one arrested and charged with assault. Yet again the police chose not to view the Thomases CCTV which would have shown the entire incident and shown Karen Thomas assaulting me. This was seriously wrong, and only added to my belief that the police were acting against us and were for some reason reluctant to take any form of action against our neighbours. This became the scariest time of my life. Carmarthen Council were doubtlessly responsible for the nightmare that was now our life. Due to their unwillingness to follow correct planning procedures which was allowing an industrial business to flourish unimpeded, and their denial to everyone who asked questions, that there was no such business operating, they were encouraging aggressive and threatening behaviour towards anyone who was aggrieved by it. The violent nature of the neighbours towards us should have caused concern to the Chief Executive of this authority. The TV documentary alone should have seen the end of our nightmare as the truth was shown. The question still remains today - what was - and still is, the relationship between someone employed by Carmarthen Council and these people, that has caused so many people to have suffered at their hands.
It was imperative now that we install some sort of camera at the top of our driveway as witness to the shocking behaviour of the Thomases, ignored by both the local police and Carmarthen Council.
Due to my continued complaints to Carmarthen Council about the disturbance to our lives caused by this industrial site I was advised to write to the Ombudsman. I wrote to the Ombudsman but it is no easy task to put together a complaint to the PSOW. I believed it was enough to simply outline a general complaint. It is not, and due to my naivety in not putting together enough information, my complaint wasn't investigated. This is somewhat different to a complaint being investigated and not upheld. However it is usual it seems that Carmarthen Council play on the fact that a complaint not being investigated somehow exonerates them from any wrongdoing and use it as a weapon against you for ever more when putting in further complaints to them. The Ombudsman has recently said "the fact a complaint has not been investigated does not mean you didn't have a justified complaint, it just means it didn't warrant resources being spent". Carmarthen Council need to understand that.
The neighbours had by now received a letter from the council advising them to remove the huge blue lorry away from our cottage, but a few weeks later after the Thomases had refused to move it, the Council took the view this was an agricultural storage unit for a few bales of hay. It seemed irrelevant that they had just built a huge shed which now towered over us, for the storage of hay.
End of July......We were awoken this sunny morning to the noise from a JCB within inches of our bedroom window. Our small cottage vibrated from this industrial monster of a machine. It was removing all of the grass around the area we looked out onto. We were fearful of what was coming next! Metal fencing panels arrived a few days later together with an old container and another smaller structure that appeared to be the rear of a small pick-up. We were left with a sinking sickening feeling. The neighbours had more plans for us. Something was going to arrive - but what? How do you describe the worry and the feeling of being constantly under threat with no-one to help or care? Bullying of any kind should not be acceptable to either the police nor the local authority, but when it is directly related to the council's negligence, it becomes somewhat sinister.
Another week went by and still nothing had appeared under our windows. We had been shopping, and as always we had a feeling of foreboding upon our return, as we never knew what we were going to be facing. We were now to discover what the removal of grass - the metal fencing panels - the rusty old container was for. We were now sleeping within feet of a couple of piglets. I was also soon to discover the names Karen Thomas had chosen for them....