This is the moment an elderly English villager embroiled in a bitter row with neighbours over a footpath was arrested – for stealing the GRASS.
Defiant Valerie Vivian, 70, was led away by police as she dug at the soil in the jointly-owned communal garden with a trowel.
It follows a long-running saga sparked by the pensioner laying a 150ft gravel path on top of the grass earlier this year.
Tenant Mrs Vivian wants to build houses on the land behind the property she rents and was trying to build a track leading to the plot.
Angry residents of the quiet cul-de-sac – who all have a stake in the green and are responsible for its maintenance – tried but failed to stop her.
Two months after the uproar on July 2 the local council ordered the residents of Miller Walk in Bathampton, Somerset, to repair the damage caused by Mrs Vivian.
They were given until October 25 to get the plot back to its original state.
Days before the deadline, a group of residents from Miller Walk – where houses cost around £1 million – disposed of the gravel and laid new grass seed in its place.
But on Saturday afternoon, determined Mrs Vivian was spotted apparently taking matters into her own hands once again.
She was arrested on suspicion of theft and marched into a police car after a woman reported her attacking the turf and carrying clumps of earth away in a bucket.
Police said that a man in his thirties – believed to be a relative of Mrs Vivian – was arrested on suspicion of theft and criminal damage.
A Miller Walk resident, who asked not to be named, said that his neighbour “saw the Vivian woman lying on the grass, fiddling”.
He said: “She rang around and we all went out – about six of us.
“Then a young man turned up, who we assume was part of her family. He said, ‘Stop harassing us or we will call the police.’
“I said, ‘We have called the police already. They are on their way.’
“She was lying down on the ground, sort of flat on the ground, leaning on her elbows and she had a trowel.”
He added: “She was ripping the grass out and dropping each piece in a bag and taking the bag when it was full and dumping it on her land.
“Before we managed to stop her she had undone about 20 per cent of the damage that we had resurfaced.
“It is just absolutely appalling and pathetic.
“I haven’t a clue what will happen now because the police have taken it out of our hands but I’m absolutely overjoyed that this has happened.”
Housewife Jackie Angell, 59, who has lived down the road from Miller Walk for 27 years, desribed Mrs Vivian as “bitter” and said she is pleased with the arrest.
“I think it’s wrong what she’s done, she shouldn’t have done it,” she said. “People will be doing it willy nilly everywhere otherwise.
“We have all got to do planning permission for everything.”
The recent drama follows a 20-year legal wrangle over planning permission between Miller Walk residents.
Mrs Vivian has applied six times to build houses on land behind the close, in Bathampton, Somerset – and been denied permission six times.
The 22ft-wide communal green linking Miller Walk to the privately-owned field that Mrs Vivian wants to develop is jointly owned by nine homeowners in the close.
Each household pays £150 a year towards its upkeep, but Mrs Vivian is renting her property so does not put money in the pot and therefore has no rights to the land.
But on July 2, with the help of workmen, she began tearing up the communal lawn, exposing honeycomb paving underneath.
Neighbours also claim the grass was poisoned with a ‘weedkiller-type substance’ by an “unknown person” before the gravel drive was laid.
Earlier this month, Bath and North East Somerset Council sent a joint letter to homeowners telling them they would all have to chip in for repairs.
They said they are “aware that certain works have taken place on the land without the benefit of planning permission”.
A council spokesperson said: “It is not possible to legally require someone who does not have an interest in the land to do works enforced through a planning enforcement notice.”
Mrs Vivian was unavailable for comment at the time.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary confirmed that a woman in her 70s was arrested on Saturday at around 3pm.
They said: “We arrested a woman in her seventies on suspicion of theft and a man in his thirties on suspicion of theft and criminal damage to a path on Miller Walk, Bathampton, on Saturday.
“Both have been released on police bail pending further enquiries.”