A COURT case against a man for plant theft in Mossley was dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service when they realised Tameside Council owned the land and had given permission for it to be cleared.
Steven Leach was accused of stealing hundreds of pounds worth of plants from the land at Bury Street but the charges were dropped before the scheduled hearing on January 31.
Denise Ann Bainbridge had attempted to possess the council-owned land and highway through the actions of her husband, John Bainbridge of Bainbridge Building Contractors.
She told the courts during her trial between June 9-11, 2020 that “all maintenance and cleaning of the subject land has been undertaken exclusively by him or myself through being in control of the subject land.”
However, Tameside Council and residents successfully objected to the claim on the basis that others used and maintained the land, and work to the highway was a requirement of her planning permission when building 66a Bury Street.
Mr Bainbridge argued that removal of plants from this area constituted theft but the Crown Prosecution Service said the land owner has the right to decide how to manage and maintain its property.
Judge Owen Rhys stated in his decision: “All the acts relied on by the applicants were carried out by Mr Bainbridge, who is a builder by trade.
“However, he does not own any adjoining land – both adjacent titles are registered in Mrs Bainbridge’s name due, it seems, to Mr Bainbridge’s earlier bankruptcy.
“Most of the evidence relating to the alleged adverse possession was given by the applicants themselves. However, that evidence was not accepted unreservedly, as the following passage makes clear: ‘In large measure I have not accepted the Bainbridges’ evidence unless it is corroborated by independent evidence or documents, or is otherwise inherently probable’.
“I found Mr Bainbridge’s evidence in particular, to be difficult to accept in some respects.
Frequently, when questions were put to him in cross-examination, he did not answer them directly, but used the question as a springboard for the deployment of tendentious argument to support his case.”
The Bainbridge’s request to appeal the decision issued on July 1, 2020 was refused by the Tribunal.
Mr Leach and other residents are lobbying Tameside Council to reopen Bury Street Highway and unregistered land currently blocked and enable those who previously walked on the area to continue to do so.