A keen gardener who claims her lawyer ex-boyfriend trashed her flowerbeds after they split up is now suing him in a £200,000 court fight.
Greenfingered Patricia Langley, 71, claims her solicitor ex-partner Lucian Milburn was behind a post-breakup ‘slash and burn’ attack on her garden in the Camden flat that they once shared.
Mr Milburn, 72, denies destroying his former lover’s flowers and plants, which she says she had lovingly cultivated in her front garden for more than a decade.
But Ms Langley is now suing her ex at Central London County Court for £200,000 over wrongful interference with her plants, restriction of access to the garden and a series of breaches of his obligations as freeholder of the building in which the flat is.
The court heard how the couple had been in a relationship for ‘many years’ and in 2001 had bought a second floor flat in Camden Road, of which Mr Milburn was the freeholder.
They separated in 2011 and Mr Milburn later moved into another flat in the basement of the house with his new partner.
Ms Langley says that, in 2015, her ex then tried to ban her from the communal front garden of the flats and soon afterwards she found flowers and plants she had maintained for years destroyed.
Keen gardener Patricia Langley, 71, (above) claims her lawyer ex-boyfriend trashed her flowerbeds after they split up is now suing him in a £200,000 court fight
Ms Langley claims her solicitor ex-partner Lucian Milburn was behind a post-breakup ‘slash and burn’ attack on her garden in the Camden townhouse flat (above) that they once shared
‘I came out and found the front garden like a slash and burn, with the exception of Mr Milburn’s favourite plants: the peonies, the geraniums,’ she said.
‘All my plants had been ripped up and torn up. Some of them might even have to have been dug up.
‘The plantings he was fond of weren’t touched. The gardenias weren’t touched.
‘It was indescribable, the destruction of what was a well-maintained garden… It was an act of dismemberment in effigy of my person.’
Although she didn’t directly accuse him of physically pulling up the flowers with his own hands, she told the judge she believes her ex ‘had a good hand’ in the trashing of her plants, branding him ‘sneaky and dishonest’.
For Mr Milburn – who denies the accusation – barrister Jonathan Upton suggested that Ms Langley had made up the claim about the vandalised flowers.
‘It didn’t happen, did it? You’ve just made that up, haven’t you?’ he put to her.
She replied: ‘No, I have sworn on the Bible.’
Ms Langley is also suing for damages for alleged breaches of some of Mr Milburn’s obligations to her as freeholder, which makes him her landlord as well as joint owner of the flat.
Following a storm at Christmas 2017, the flat had been damaged by rainwater, leaving it ‘uninhabitable,’ she claims.
She had then been deprived of an electricity supply for months, she added, and Mr Milburn had failed to properly maintain and clean communal areas of the house.
But Mr Upton, for Mr Milburn, said: ‘Mr Milburn denies any breach of his repairing obligations and avers that Ms Langley has never contributed to the cost of maintenance.’
Lucian Milburn, 72, denies destroying his former lover’s flowers and plants, which she says she had lovingly cultivated in her front garden for more than a decade
He said it is accepted that she is due some limited compensation for the impact of the storm damage on her, resulting in her having to temporarily move out.
But he refuted her suggestion that her kitchen had been left permanently ruined and that the property was ‘uninhabitable’ for months on end.
Eight days after the storm, a ‘tin hat roof’ had been erected, preventing leaks, and problems with the electricity supply after that were not down to him.
In relation to access to the communal garden, the worst he had done was have a letter sent ‘purporting to revoke’ her right to use it.
‘It is not suggested that he has in fact done anything to interfere with Ms Langley’s right to use the communal garden,’ said the barrister.
‘He has not erected a fence or otherwise physically attempted to prevent her from accessing the front garden.
‘Put simply, the letter does not amount to a substantial interference with her right to use the communal garden.’
He said the ‘inference’ that the plantings in the front garden were destroyed by Mr Milburn was also vehemently denied.
Plants and flowers she had cultivated in the back garden would have been returned to her if she had asked, he added.
The court heard that following another court clash, Ms Langley finally left the couple’s former home last year so that it can be sold.
After two days in court, the trial was adjourned to a later date.