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Monday, January 18, 1999 Published at 13:26 GMT


'Haunted house' owners lose case

"I do not accept that it is haunted," said Judge Peter Stretton

A couple who refused to pay the full price for their cottage because they said it was haunted have lost their case.

The BBC's Sarah Sturdey: "Josie Smith told the court a violent ghost had assaulted her"
Josie and Andrew Smith said they should not have to pay £3,000 of the cost of their home in East Staffordshire because of a ghost.

But Judge Peter Stretton at Derby County Court ruled in favour of the previous owners, Susan Melbourne and her sister Sandra Podmore. He said: "I do not accept that it is haunted now or has been at any other time." He called the Smiths' actions "extraordinary".

The Smiths said that Lowes Cottage in Upper Mayfield, Staffordshire, was possessed by spirits which caused walls to weep and objects to be moved. On occasions they even attacked the occupants, the Smiths said.

Refused to pay

They had refused to pay the final £3,000 instalment on the £44,000 house saying that the sisters who sold the property knew of the ghostly presence and had failed to declare it.

During the case, Josie Smith, 36, told Derby Crown Court that she was assaulted by the spirit as she lay in bed and felt like she had been raped.

"I felt something touching me beneath my nightdress," she said. "It only stopped when I shouted 'no'."

Mrs Smith said she had experienced a number of strange things, including visions of a little boy with bright red, piggy eyes.

The Smiths said the sisters had failed to tell them about the ghost before they bought the house in 1994 and moved in with their children Daniel, Stephen and Lindsey.

Paranormal presence

The couple asked for help from a priest, the Rev Peter Mockford, who specialises in the paranormal. He told the court he believed that there was a paranormal presence in the house.

Giving evidence, both sisters said they had no knowledge of ghosts in the house or that the house had ever been haunted.

Mrs Melbourne told the court: "I have never experienced a ghost and I have never heard of a haunted house in Mayfield. I do not believe in ghosts."

Their lawyer, Thomas Dillon, told the court that the Smiths had invented the story to avoid paying the outstanding money.

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