Woman beat neighbour to death with a spade in row about garden fence


A woman who battered her ‘untidy, hoarding’ neighbour after a long-running feud was today found guilty of murder.

Debby Foxwell, 41, had a ‘visceral hatred’ for former Liberal Democrat councillor Louise Lotz, 64, and blamed her for her inability to sell her own home in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. It was said that the ‘neighbours’ dispute began over petty matters: boundaries, bins, and borders’.

After a day of tension and arguing over a fence, Foxwell marched to her back garden and grabbed a garden spade. She walked to Ms Lotz’s house, kicked down the door in a ‘furious rage’ and started swinging her spade, smashing a plasma TV and a laptop to pieces.

Foxwell then pursued the victim, who made a desperate run for safety as she called police. Ms Lotz arrived at a neighbour’s door and started ‘hammering away like mad’ shouting: ‘Help me, help me!’

But Foxwell caught up with her and repeatedly battered her with the weapon, ‘causing catastrophic injuries to her head’.

The killer walked home and told her partner, Anthonie Vroon: ‘It’s over. I’ve done it. She said it in a flat tone of voice – like she was reading from a book.’

Ms Lotz, who had two sons – one of whom died as a child – had lived at number eight for many years, before Foxwell moved in next door.

Initially, the pair got on well but from 2015 onwards, their disputes were frequently reported to police and the killer was prosecuted for assault and criminal damage against her victim.

The following year, her husband died from cancer but by 2019 she found a new partner and the couple started looking to sell the property.

Alan Blake told St Albans Crown Court: ‘She blamed Louise Lotz, rightly or wrongly, for not being able to sell her property.’

It was heard Ms Lotz was described as an ‘untidy hoarder’, with Foxwell believing the state of her house affected the sale of her own.

On July 23, last year, Community Protection Warning Notices were issued to both women, banning them from harassing, trespassing or taking photographs of each other. Following the order, the defendant’s ‘hatred of Louise Lotz intensified,’ said Mr Blake.

The dispute came to a head on July 31, when Foxwell walked past the victim and swung her bag into her head as she was tending to plants in the front garden.

On August 24, a row broke out between the pair and both women called the police. At around 8pm Ms Lotz saw the killer filming her on her mobile and grabbed the phone, which contained images of Foxwell’s late husband.

The victim ran into her home and was followed by her neighbour who threw clay pots and a lawnmower against one of her windows.

Msd Lotz’s lodger, Liam Graham, told the jury Foxwell broke into the house, adding: ‘She was swinging the spade from side to side.

‘She put the spade through a great big plasma TV and smashed a laptop into a million pieces.’

It was heard she then spotted Ms Lotz, who sprinted out the house and said: ‘There is the b****’.

Foxwell launched her deadly attack and used the spade ‘like a machete’ by turning it on its side to repeatedly hit her in the head, said Mr Graham.

‘I screamed at her to stop. I tried to intervene once,’ the lodger added.

‘She turned and said, “You best stay out of the way if you know what’s good for you”.’

Foxwell will be sentenced on March 20.