London: Dad ‘bared his teeth and growled’ as neighbor refused to return ball

Esther and Zavy Adler and their son Chaim before the Mayor and City County Court

Esther and Zavy Adler and their son Chaim before the Mayor and City County Court (Image: Champion News)

A father has been sued after he “molested” a couple who refused to return his son’s ball as he walked into their garden.

Chaim Adler spent a lot of time at his parents’ home in north London, where his son played football in the garden.

But it caused some conflict with the couple living next door, attorney Warren Bergson and his psychologist Dr. Edel McAndrew Bergson.

The “grown-up” couple said they felt intimidated by the noise of the ball regularly “smashing” their fence – and eventually retaliated by confiscating the ball in May 2018.

A court heard Mr Adler, 34, burst into their garden on Highfield Avenue, Golders Green, angry because his son was in tears.

He scolded and threatened Mr Bergson, danced around on one foot and used “aggressive body language”, leading to him and his wife fearing attack, it has been claimed.

This included knocking on the Bergsons’ door and pressing his face against their window while he “bared his teeth and growled at them.”

dr Edel McAndrew-Bergson before the Mayor and City County Court

dr Edel McAndrew-Bergson before the Mayor and City County Court (Picture: Champion News)

At the Mayor and City Court, Judge Stephen Hellman KC found that Chaim Adler overreacted and “harassed” the couple, even though Mr Bergson should not have confiscated the ball.

The head of the fire alarm company is now faced with paying damages to Dr. Edel McAndrew-Bergson and a potentially hefty legal bill. Her husband, Mr. Bergson, died when the trial began and did not attend the hearing.

The irate dad’s parents Zavy, 72, and Esther Adler, 68, who own the large property worth over £1million next door to the Bergsons’ home at the time, are also having to make payouts after the row.

The judge said the court battle was an “unfortunate case of a neighbors’ out-of-control dispute” after the Bergsons moved into a one-bedroom garden apartment next door to Mr Adler’s parents in 2017.

The first clash occurred in August 2017 when water poured from a paddling pool into the Bergsons’ backyard.

In their evidence, the couple said Mr Bergson protested to the neighbors but Zavy Adler got angry, lunged at him and followed him back to his garden.

Police were called and although Mr Bergson and Zavy Adler later shook hands, the Bergsons claimed the incident was the start of a “harassment campaign”.

Highfield Avenue at Golders Green

The incidents took place on Highfield Avenue in Golders Green (Image: Google Maps)

They complained about the constant construction noise, which also blocked the way to their apartment, and the regular noisy family closeness next door.

The couple said they chose British Library membership so they could go somewhere peaceful.

Things came to a head over a long weekend in May 2018 when the Bergsons were upset by the noise of football being kicked against the fence.

dr McAndrew-Bergson grabbed it when it came into her yard and threw it over another neighbor’s fence.

Mr Bergson then decided to confiscate it and took it to his home on another occasion that same weekend.

They said the dispute over football caused Chaim Adler to get angry and twice entered their garden, once with a “small army” of Adler family members.

Esther Adler once went to the Bergsons and told them they had no right to live next door and if they didn’t like noise then they should leave.

Her apartment belonged to an extended family member of the Adler, who rented her to the Bergsons.

Chaim Adler denied doing anything wrong and said he was just a father protecting his son.

Chaim Adler before the Mayor and City County Court

Chaim Adler before Mayor and City County Court (Image: Champion News)

Judge Hellman heard the case in March this year but only returned a verdict last week after a delay caused by the death of Mr Bergson, who was unwell and did not attend the hearing.

At the sentencing, the judge said that anger between neighbors is always a risk because they are different people with different interests in life.

“The Adlers enjoyed family gatherings on weekends and religious holidays — the Bergsons were a mature couple who enjoyed peace and quiet,” he said.

Loud activity in the Adlers’ garden at weekends was perfectly normal and not part of a “harassment campaign” as it was a family home,” he said.

And while the football might have been kicked loudly and often against the fence, there was no evidence the Adlers had been told the Bergsons were irritated by it, he found.

However, he considered the claims against Chaim Adler after the incidents of the May weekend 2018 to be justified, he had harassed her and entered her property.

But although Mr. Bergson would have returned the ball if asked and Dr. McAndrew-Bergson shouldn’t have thrown him over the other neighbor’s fence, he continued, his response was unjustified.

The judge adjourned the case to a later date when he will decide what compensation Dr. McAndrew-Bergson to receive from Mr and Mrs Adler for the disturbance and from their son for the molestation and trespassing.

He will also then decide who will have to pay the legal fees for the case, which are expected to be significant after three days of trial and one more hearing.

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Justin Scacco

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