The wife of Britain’s most controversial landlord Fergus Wilson has appeared in court.
Judith Wilson, 68, last year was ordered to pay £25,000 in fines and legal costs after a court ruled she failed to supply hot water to a disabled tenant.
Ashford Borough Council hailed the outcome “a powerful reminder to private-sector landlords that there will be serious consequences if they fail to deal fairly with tenants”.
But today Mrs Wilson, who owned around 1,000 Kent homes with Fergus at the peak of their career, launched a four-pronged appeal in an attempt to overturn the conviction.
It centres on claims her workmen were threatened with violence when attending the property in Kingsnorth last year.
Ben Leb, who is representing Mrs Wilson, also argued Ashford council gave insufficient time to carry out repairs.
The barrister maintains tenants Mark Manser, who uses a wheelchair, and partner Sarah Manser damaged the water system, causing the home to flood.
However barrister Sophie Gray told Canterbury Crown Court the local authority contests Mrs Wilson’s claims.
The November court case came amid allegations a home Mrs Wilson rented had ongoing problems with its hot water and heating system.
It led to Ashford council serving an enforcement notice requiring the defects be remedied, district judge Justin Baron heard.
However the council argued Mrs Wilson failed to ensure the problems were fixed within the time and so Ashford council had to carry out the work itself.
Mrs Wilson claimed she had “a reasonable excuse” for failing to comply with the notice.
She argued the boiler damage and heating system was caused by the tenants or their agents.
Mrs Wilson claimed she was not permitted access to the premises, had insufficient time to complete the work and reasonably relied on the council to carry out repairs.
But prosecutor Sophie Gray said Mrs Wilson had “fabricated” stories that she made attempts to restore the boiler, and showed “clear disregard” for the couple.
In his verdict, Judge Barron said Judith Wilson had “every opportunity to resolve the issues, but Mr Wilson was consistently difficult, and stubbornly refused to make any genuine commitment.”
Now, the two day appeal will hear evidence from Fergus, a number of plumbers and Mr and Mrs Manser.
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