Retired social worker Margaret Townley, 75, from Bath, spoke out after being forced to admit defeat following a 13-year court fight centred on her retirement home in Salobrena, Granada. The dispute with her neighbour, a builder, relates to a collapsed boundary wall, resulting in a judge ordering Mrs Townley’s property to be flogged off in a closed auction.
To make things worse, it was purchased at a cut-rate price by the family of the builder concerned.
Mrs Townley and her Chilean husband Roberto bought the plot of land in 2002, she told the Olive Press newspaper.
They then hired their neighbour to build the wall, at a cost of £15,800 (€18,500).
However, this partially collapsed in 2008 after heavy rains, and it transpired it had been constructed without adequate foundations or drainage.
Mrs Townley said: “We carried out technical surveys which determined that the wall had not been built to the specifications agreed and attempted to seek legal redress for him to replace it or pay compensation.”
However, the builder in question died before this could happen – and his wife then sued Mrs Townley for damaged caused by the wall to her fruit trees when it collapsed.
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She added: “It was an absurd moment and as the ruling didn’t say we had to actually follow that plan, we instead forked out €30,000 on a new wall that was given approval by Salobrena town hall.”
The case was then referred to the Provincial Court in Granada, where a judge pronounced that he had no jurisdiction because it was not a criminal case – while suggesting Mrs Townley had suffered a “gross injustice”.
However, the matter was then returned to the court in Motril for another technical report.
Despite evidence submitted by technical architects suggesting the fixed wall was sufficient, the judge ruled the debt to be outstanding, and ordered to house to be sold off, with the proceeds used got build the new wall.
Mrs Townley said: “It went under the hammer in a sale when travel restrictions mean I couldn’t even fly in to attend it.
“It was sold to a company owned by the son of the builder and bought for the hugely under-the-market price of €65,000.”
She and her husband were the victims of “enormous levels of injustice”, Mrs Townley added.