A hinterland family has been awarded nearly $50,000 in damages stemming from a dispute with their neighbours.
A hinterland family has been awarded nearly $50,000 in damages stemming from a dispute with their neighbours. FILE

Family sues neighbours over 'despicable' driveway behaviour

A YOUNG family has been awarded nearly $50,000 in damages after suing neighbours whose behaviour 'fractured their dreams" of enjoying their hinterland property.

Dmitry Brodsky and Fiona Healy bought a vacant acreage property at Carters Ridge, west of Cooroy, in 2007 to build a home for their growing family.

Maroochydore District Court heard during a civil trial the couple wanted to expose their three children, now 10, 8 and 6, to the joys of rural life.

They moved into a Queenslander-type home just before Christmas in 2011 and were pleased with the magnificent rural and mountain views.

But unfortunately for them and their dreams, their property was essentially bisected by an easement for a neighbouring property.

Those neighbours, Alan Neville Willi and Robyn Anne Willi, had right of way along the easement, the only access from their property to the public road system.

Mr Brodsky and Ms Healy had no option but to cross the easement if they wanted to access the lower section of their land.

Judge John Robertson said in his decision the communication that began in early 2012 from the Willis towards their new neighbours was "despicable".

Incidents included dispute over a locked gate which stopped Mr Brodsky and Ms Healy from accessing the easement from an adjoining road.

"It is suffice for me to say that I am certain (on the basis of all the evidence) that the defendants (Willis) were the aggressors from the start, and it was their conduct that reasonably provoked the plaintiffs (Mr Brodsky and Ms Healy) to protect their personal and property rights over the following years," Judge Robertson said.

He said the Willis were aggressive, nasty and unreasonable, noting an "extraordinary" threat in a letter they wrote about children not wearing helmets while riding bikes.

"We again will not be responsible for what may or will happen if any of your siblings (sic) fall off their bikes and sustain any head injuries," the letter read.

"I can only notify Child Welfare that you have been put on notice of no head protection when or if riding on our easement.

"This also applies for any of your family or friends (sic) children."

Judge Robertson said that was an early example of the Willis' behaviour.

"It was designed, on completely fallacious grounds, to intimidate the plaintiffs and it succeeded," Judge Robertson said.

The court heard the Willis made false allegations about Ms Healy as a mother and false allegations to the police and the council about their character.

He noted a counter claim lodged by the Willis which sought more than $53,000 damages but said no identifiable cause for the action was pleaded.

Incidents also included removal of a concrete crossover, which Mr Brodsky had built over the Willi's driveway in July 2013 to improve access to the lower section of his land.

The tension culminated in an assault in August 2013 by Ms Willi on Ms Healy on the easement.

Ms Willi was convicted in Gympie Magistrates Court in February 2014 of common assault and ordered to pay $1000 restitution but no conviction was recorded.

Judge Robertson inferred the neighbours had little contact since that incident.

The civil case against the Willis was also lodged that year.

It concluded late last month when Judge Robertson ordered the Willis pay $2450 in restitution damages, $20,000 in aggravated damages and $25,000 in exemplary damages.

Judge Robertson said Mr Brodsky and Ms Healy "appeared to be genuinely and significantly adversely affected by the behaviour of their neighbours, which has fractured their dreams of enjoying their property with their children to the fullest potential".

He dismissed the Willis' counter claim.


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