Therfield couple plead guilty to noise abatement breach after yapping and barking of 38 dogs troubles neighbours

David Govan and his wife Marilyn were found guilty of breaching noise abatement orders

David Govan and his wife Marilyn were found guilty of breaching noise abatement orders - Credit: Archant

A Therfield couple who kept 38 dogs in their ex-council house pleaded guilty to breaching eight counts of a noise abatement notice after the sound of barking consistently disturbed their neighbours.

David Govan, 65 and Marilyn Govan, 62 of 17 Hay Green, were sent a council letter in April last year warning of an abatement.

Mr James Ellis, prosecuting on behalf of North Herts District Council, said: “The couple had spent 16 years in the house. There were various complaints against them over the years such as smell of faeces and dogs going into other people’s gardens.”

Recording equipment was then installed in their neighbour’s house in May to monitor the sounds of barking and yelping, and a noise abatement notice was then served in June.

The couple were given two months to comply, as they would not have been able to reduce the number of dogs immediately, Mr Ellis told Stevenage Magistrates’ Court this morning.

Mrs Govan contacted the council to express displeasure with the way the couple had been treated, and at a meeting with NHDC officials in July, they said did not think the noise was an issue, and they wouldn’t reduce the amount of dogs at the property.

Then on September 14, noise recording equipment was reinstalled in the neighbour’s property, after continuing complaints.

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This found that the noise coming from the couple’s semi-detached house breached the order.

The dogs were then seized from the home when the RSPCA and police raided the house in March this year, after an alarm was raised about the welfare of the animals.

Representing himself in court, Mr Govan said the dogs were not noisy throughout the day, and said they were only loud for two or three hours – when they were let out.

Mr Ellis said he took objection to the claim that it was two to three hours a day, and said the recordings demonstrated that the noise was intermittent throughout the day.

The couple were ordered to pay more than £9,000 each. They were charged £900 for each count of the noise abatement breach, totalling £7,200. They were also ordered to pay 50 per cent of costs incurred by NHDC, totalling £1,834.50. The pair were also ordered to pay £90 victim surcharges, with fines totalling £9,124.50 each.

Mr and Mrs Govan were previously found guilty of the same offence at a hearing in April this year, but it was re-arranged for today as the court did not take into account the couple’s not guilty plea, and went ahead in their absence.

Magistrate David Knight said Mr and Mrs Govan must not allow any female dogs or more than three dogs of any breed at 17 Hay Green, and must keep the noise of barking and yapping down. They must also ensure dog faeces is cleared up in external areas.

The couple, who have moved out of the property which has now been gutted, and are planning to sell it, still have custody of the dogs.

Speaking outside the court, neighbour Adelle Noades said she was ‘really happy’ with the result. She said: “This has been affecting me for four years.”