Dad furious as neighbour’s ‘anti-child alarm’ leaves daughter ‘in pain’
A dad-of-ten says his children are prisoners in their own home after his retired magistrate neighbour installed an ‘anti-child’ alarm on her house.
Single father Thomas Weldon, 52, said Lesley Cooper is making his family’s life hell with the alarm – which he said has left his seven-year-old daughter "screaming in pain."
Lesley, 74, installed the controversial ‘mosquito’ device on the outside of her £400,000 property which emits a high-pitched noise that only people aged under 25 can hear.
The retired teacher says she has been forced to do so because of the behaviour of Thomas’ large brood who she has branded a "nuisance".
But he says the alarm causes his youngsters to scream in pain and has led to a bitter neighbourhood dispute between the pair.
Thomas has described his rented home in Babbacombe, Devon, as like living in a prison because his children are prevented from going outside when the alarm is turned on.
He claims it is activated three or four times a week and he believes it is pointed directly at his six younger children.
Thomas said: "I had to take my seven-year-old daughter to hospital because she was screaming in pain because the alarm makes such a high pitched noise.
"We’re not allowed to step outside our front door because as soon as we do she puts it on.
"It’s an absolute nightmare. It’s driving us absolutely mad. My children can’t come out of the house and play – it’s like living in a prison."
Lesley, who spent many years serving as a magistrate, confirmed she has had the alarm there for three years.
But she says she has only turned it on four times when children have been hurling objects at her property.
It is a legal device with a high-frequency tone that is inaudible to people over about 25 years of age, but causes discomfort and irritation to youngsters.
But Thomas, who runs his own removal business, says it is making the lives of his children a misery.
Six of his children still live at home, aged five, seven, nine, 11, 13 and 15.
They live in a rented four-bedroom house in a road which backs on to Lesley’s near the picturesque Downs.
Thomas added: "I have six children and they like to play outside. She even called the police when one of their balls banged against her garage twice.
"I have reported it to the council and I have been told the alarm is illegal and against children’s human rights. When the sun is shinning she puts it on regularly.
"I’ve asked her to take it down but she won’t talk to me. It’s the most anti-social thing I have ever known in my life.
"We’re just a normal family trying to get on with our lives. It’s like she is trying to drive us away."
The alarms, which cost £600, are said to infringe human rights under noise-nuisance laws.
When the Mosquito MK4 alarm and motion sensor was launched in 2008, a campaign called "Buzz Off" led by the Children’s Commissioner for England called for it to be banned, claiming the device was unnecessarily aggressive and created no-go areas for children and young adults who may have done nothing wrong.
In 2010, an investigation by the Council of Europe found that the device was " degrading and discriminatory" to youngsters and should be banned because it "violates legislation prohibiting torture".
Since it went on the market, thousands have been sold in the UK, mainly to small-shop owners, but it is understood sales of the device to families and home owners are soaring.
It works by emitting an alternating high-frequency tone four times a second which isn’t audible to people over about 25 years of age, but is intensely irritating to people under that age.
It has been claimed that two previous tenants at Thomas’ property have left because of the dispute.
Lesley confirmed that she has an alarm on her house but said she had only used it four times in three years, for five minutes each time, when children had been throwing objects at her house.
She said: "The alarm has been passed by Torbay Council and the police.
"It has been authorised because of the persistent nuisance which disturbs my residence by the family at the rear of my property in Princes Street.
"They have continually vandalised, harassed and made a complete nuisance of themselves. The authorities are still dealing with it.
"The alarm has been passed by the European Court of Justice and by the British Parliament.
"I am an awarded teacher of 15 years. The alarm has been on four times in three years because objects were being hurled at my property for a maximum of five minutes at a time. My two garages are at the back in Princes Street.
"I think I am a very good resident. I am an honest-living, concerned neighbour at all times and I wish others to behave likewise."
Lesley said her mother, Joan Cooper had been a well-known and well-respected Torbay councillor for many years.
The landlady at The Buccaneer pub on Babbacombe Downs, Marion Ricketts, said she and other neighbours supported Thomas in his fight to have the alarm removed.
Marion said: "We have had problems with her banging on our doors for seven years every time a delivery lorry stops in the lane.
"I can handle her but it’s what she’s doing to the kids that all of the neighbours are unhappy about. I’m an adult. I can stand up for myself. But it’s not right to have that alarm hurting kids.
"The alarms should be banned everywhere.
"Thomas has got a lot of children but they are so well-behaved. They are doing what kids should do – going outdoors, not sitting inside playing on an XBox."
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