August 11, 2022

A couple claim their hellish neighbor installed a mannequin to stare into their bedroom from their loft window.

Rosie and Christopher Taylor-Davies say they were forced to live in “darkness” with the curtains drawn after Simon Cook propped the dummy up so it faced directly at them.

The fact that he failed to use frosted glass for the newly-fitted Velux window meant they had to resort to getting undressed behind a bookcase – the only point on their top floor where they could not be seen.

And “to add insult to injury”, married dad Mr. Cook added a blonde wig to the mannequin, making it appear that someone was watching over their every move.

Christopher said: “We can’t take a shower or get dressed without being overlooked.”

“It’s essentially like living in darkness.”

Rosie and Christopher took Mr. Cook to the High Court, but lost their privacy battle.

A senior judge agreed he had not taken his neighbors’ concerns “seriously” but ruled Mr. Cook had not breached planning rules by installing an openable window with clear glass.

The court heard he had applied for planning permission as part of extensive works to his $2 million home near Richmond Park, South West London, in 2019.

The two neighbors’ homes are on a slope, allowing Mr. Cook to see directly into the couple’s home through the window if he chose.
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This involved a roof extension with dormer windows on both sides and at the back, but Rosie and Christopher objected to elements of the project, calling the windows an “invasion of their privacy”.

Simon Cook
Simon Cook gave the mannequin a blonde wig in addition to placing the doll at his window.
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The Velux “directly overlooked” their bed and they felt they would be watched “day and night” where they sleep and shower, the couple said.

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In February 2020, the council granted Mr. Cook planning permission but laid down conditions that the dormer window should have obscured glass and be non-opening.

However, officers waived those rules for the Velux, because it “faces the sky” and would have less impact on neighbors.

Challenging the council’s decision not to take “enforcement action”, the couple’s barrister Stephen Wale argued they had been robbed of their privacy.

The neighboring houses are on a slope meaning Mr Cook’s is slightly higher than Rosie and Christopher’s.

This means anyone looking out of the rooflight can see directly into the Taylor-Davies’ top floor, including a clear-sided shower box.

But despite knowing of their concerns, their neighbor had “added insult to injury” by sometimes positioning a blonde mannequin in the window, facing out onto their property.

INVASION OF PRIVACY

Mr. Whale said: “It serves to give the impression, as presumably he intends, that there is a person at the window overlooking their property and invading their privacy.

“It only adds to their distress. The overlooking of their property and the invasion of their privacy as a result of the Velux window is very distressing to them.

“There is no good reason for the Velux window to have clear glass or be openable as there is another window very close on the opposite wall.

Rosie Taylor-Davies who fought a High Court privacy battle over window overlooking her Richmond Park home.
Rosie Taylor-Davies stands with a mannequin after fighting the privacy battle.
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“There would be no loss of amenity to Mr Cook were the Velux window to have opaque glass and be non-openable.  

“The only thing the Velux window overlooks is the top floor of the claimants’ house.”

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Giving judgment, Mrs Justice Lang agreed that he “did not take the claimants’ concerns seriously – but still ruled in Mr Cook’s favour.

We can’t take a shower or get dressed without being overlooked. It’s essentially like living in darkness.

The couple, both New Zealanders, moved into their home beside Richmond Park 27 years ago and raised a family there.

Christopher Taylor-Davies
Christopher Taylor-Davies and his wife are both New Zealand natives, now living in London.
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Rosie, 62, is a costume designer who has worked in TV, film and theater, as well as winning a local council award for her campaign to make protective scrubs for medics during the pandemic.

Her husband, 59, is a technical consultant and software designer.

Speaking from his home after the court hearing, Christopher said the mannequin is no longer at her station by the window, but they are still contemplating moving.

“We’ve lived here for more than 20 years, but we might have to move out because of all this,” he said.

Mr Cook was not a party to the case, which was an attempt by judicial review by the Taylor-Davies to get the council to take action against him.

This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced here with permission.