BARNSTEAD — A Belknap County Superior Court judge has given a Barnstead couple some additional time to get a lawyer to argue that it is not their cats that are pooping on the neighbor's Locke Lake beach.
Gilles and Victoria Dube filed motions in June telling the court that Victoria and Bruce Bednarski's cats are continuing to defecate on their beach and diminishing the value of their property.
The Dubes and the Bednarskis have been fighting over the Bednarskis' cats since 2012. In 2013 the two couples went to court where Judge Kenneth McHugh ordered the Bednarskis not to let their cats defecate on the Dubes' beach. He also ordered the Dubes to stop firing Roman candles and the occasional gun near the Bednarski's property line. The Dubes asked for financial damages they say came from the Bednarskis' cats' poop.
Last year the two couples returned to court, each claiming the other had violated the terms of McHugh's order. The Dubes entered two years of pictorial evidence of cat poop on their beach.
The Bednarskis have three cats and the Dubes have one cat.
Judge O'Neill ordered that the conditions of McHugh's order remain in place and asked Guldbrandsen to conduct an investigation into whether or not either party violated the terms of McHugh's order and should be held in contempt.
On May 21, Gulbrandsen submitted a written memorandum to the court saying she could find insufficient evidence that the Bednarskis violated McHugh's order.
"While circumstantial evidence can often be enough to meet the high burden of proof (needed to charge the Bednarskis with contempt) beyond a reasonable doubt, the evidence here is too circumstantial," she wrote.
"Further, proving the criminal intent would require proving the Bednarskis intentionally violated the court's order. There is no evidence that any violation of the court order was committed intentionally by Bednarski, rather it is Bednarski's cats who are possible offenders," Guldbrandsen concluded.
She said she found the cats' behavior troubling and that alleged violations of a court order "undermine our system of justice" but that it doesn't rise to the level of a prosecutable offense.
The Dubes, however, returned to court and filed a motion on June 5 claiming the Bednarskis let their cats out when they know the Dubes are not home and watch their home for their comings and goings.
The said they called the Barnstead Police and reported the officer saw no signs of cats during two weeks in late May. He didn't stop one day because the police were busy, but Dube said the next day there were cat feces on his beach.
The Dubes said they have filed 20 police reports since 2012 and haven't been able to use their beach for three years.
They said they did a full remediation of the beach in 2013 but it proved to be a waste of time and money. He also accused Bednarski of lying to police and being skilled at subverting the law.
Police Chief Joe McDowell said yesterday that there is no cat ordinance in Barnstead and his officers are not likely to respond to any more cat complaints.
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