Retired surgeon gets police warning for removing couple of twigs from neighbour’s tree obscuring safety mirror
A retired surgeon was given a warning by police after snipping three twigs from a neighbour’s hedge that were blocking his safety mirror.
David Tolhurst, 81, installed the curved mirror on a telephone pole outside his home in September 2014 after his late wife, Sonia, had her car written off in a crash.
But he was forced to remove it after claiming a neighbour informed Suffolk Highways for putting it up on public land.
Father-of-two David, who was a fellow of Harvard University and practiced at Great Ormond Street Hospital, said: “I was instructed by a Highways engineer to take down the mirror.
“I told them I was not going to take such nonsense because I was only concerned about safety.
“You see hundreds of mirrors around the county so I was surprised to be targeted. It seemed petty and ridiculous.
David, who was born in New Zealand, claims the nightmare neighbour, who lives opposite him issued a bogus complaint that the mirror was dazzling oncoming drivers.
He said: “It is utter nonsense. I had to go to hospital for 36 hours for treatment for my heart condition and when I returned the mirror was gone.
“I used to be a professor of surgery so I am not a moron.”
The grandfather, whose wife died from cancer four years ago, then put the mirror on the opposite side of the road in another neighbour’s hedge – with their permission.
He added: “The hedge grew up so I trimmed away three little twigs and some ivy.
“Two policemen in a very large van turned up to tell me off for ‘vandalising the property of a neighbour.’
“The hedge was shared by two neighbours and one had complained to police about me deforming their hedge.
“I told them I am not a vandal and they seemed awfully sorry but they reminded of the statutory requirements that I must not interfere with the property of other people.”
He has now put the mirror up in the garden of his own four-bedroom fifteenth century property.
David said : “This whole drama has been a complete waste of time and money.
“Now I have a ghastly-looking mirror in my property but I am in the business of safety not beauty.”
The Volkswagen estate driver said: “If you exit my property my view of oncoming traffic is blocked by two big telegraph poles and the road can be rather busy.”
A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said the original location of the mirror was classified as a “highway” and the mirror was classed as a “sign” that would need to be approved by the Department for Transport.
The spokesman added: “We received a complaint about the mirror which we are obligated to act upon.
“We asked Mr Tolhurst to remove the mirror and when he refused, we took it down.”
Early September 2014 – David first put the mirror up on a telephone pole outside his house.
Later that month – A Suffolk Highways engineer visited his house to tell David to move the mirror. It was removed by another engineer soon after.
December 2014 – David moved the mirror into a neighbour’s hedge on the opposite of the road, with their permission.
March 2015 – Police visited to warn Mr Tolhurst about interfering with the other people’s property after he trimmed away three twigs and some ivy blocking the mirror.
February 2016 – In frustration after ongoing discussions with neighbours, David finally put up the mirror in the garden of his own property.
David added: “The police must have better things to do.
“I was speaking to a retired policeman friend of mine who was furious at how I’ve been treated.
“We were joking that perhaps they thought I was a terrorist.”
Nicholas Tribe, 49, the neighbour who allowed Mr Tolhurst to put the mirror in his hedge, said: “David asked if he could stick his mirror in my hedge and being neighbourly I of course agreed.
“It seems mirror-gate has hit Sherbourne Street.
“We live on a tiny, rural lane and you occasionally get boy racers speeding through.
“The mirror could help to prevent a nasty accident so I can’t understand why anyone would have any issue with it.
“I’m deeply saddened to hear about the conflict between my neighbours.
“I thought we lived in a friendly community.”