RIGHT TO QUIET SOCIETY
for Soundscape Awareness and Protection
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Noisy neighbours nabbed
Justice was finally done in a case in which neighbours had been disturbed for a long time by an obnoxious home owner and his wife in an upscale Vancouver area. The couple had made themselves infamous with having noisy parties, playing loud music and making plenty of other noise. The problems went on for over two years until the perpetrators were charged with two counts of violating Vancouver’s Noise Control Bylaw # 6555, Section 4.
The court hearing began on February 3, 2009, in provincial court. The offending couple was represented by a lawyer. They chose to travel to Mexico to allegedly see the elderly father of the couple’s wife and authorised the lawyer to plead guilty. The prosecutor argued that the bylaw violations should not be taken so lightly, and that it is important for the defendants to be physically present in court to ensure proper procedure; make them understand that they, too, are subject to the law; and to make sure they understood the process and sentencing, to leave no doubt about that in their minds for the future. Nonetheless, the judge accepted the defence lawyer’s argument that her clients’ presence in court was not required.
By the prosecutor’s account, the defendants had a deck built with out-door speakers. There were nine complaints registered from neighbours during 2006 and 2007. The complainants stated that loud parties occurred on any day of the week, plus screaming of people over the music. The couple also had a $50,000 dance floor installed and offered offended neighbours hotel accommodation for September 15, 2007, when they were going to have a “50th birthday bash”. That event was described by some neighbours as the loudest ever. Due to a stabbing that day, police were unable to respond promptly to noise complaints. When they did arrive, a private security guard refused to admit the officers to the home owner. Because of the prosecutor’s presentation being lengthy, the judge intervened and asked her to submit a summary. In closing, the prosecutor asked for the maximum fine of $2,000 to be applied.
The defence lawyer, understandably, argued that all evidence and impact statements referring to other events than the two in question before the court are irrelevant. The fact that the defendants had offered hotel accommodation for September 15, 2007, to neighbours should be a mitigating factor, because with that they demonstrated consideration. She also wanted court to refrain from requiring her clients to meet with noise inspectors, and rather make this a voluntary issue. The penalty for the 10-years younger wife should be lower than that of the husband, as she bears less responsibility. The lawyer further stated that in precedence cases of stronger offences there were lower penalties, and asked for a fine of $250 to $500 for the home owner and the minimum for his wife. That should be sufficient to deter future violations.
The judge called for two breaks that afternoon, all of which dragged out the hearing too long for us to attend till the end. We later learned that the hearing continued on February 9, when Judge H. Dhillon handed down her sentencing decision:
The noisy home owner was found guilty on two counts and fined $1,600. His wife was found guilty on one count and fined $1,200. In addition, the judge imposed a one-year 333C Vancouver Charter Order with the following terms:
- Keep the peace and be of good behaviour
- Obey all City of Vancouver By‑laws and amendments thereto, in particular, the Noise By‑law 6555
- Meet with a City of Vancouver Property Use noise inspector within six months.
If this order is breached S. 333C of the Vancouver Charter permits a fine of up to $10,000 and 6 months in jail.
Editor’s note: When trying to obtain this information we were faced with considerable reluctance at the court registry office to provide it. Instead of simply giving out a paper copy of the verdict for a small fee, it took three different clerks to consult and finally several minutes to take notes of what one of them read off the court document. Unfortunately, we were unable to find this particular case posted on the court’s website.
Entire contents © 2006 Right to Quiet Society. Cartoon © 1996 Right to Quiet Society
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