A woman who bludgeoned her neighbour to death with a garden spade has been found guilty of murder.
64 year old Louise, a former councillor, sustained fatal head injuries outside her home in Fordwich Road, Welwyn Garden City, on 24 August 2019.
Debby Foxwell had a “visceral hatred” for Louise Lotz – a “hoarder” she blamed for her inability to sell her home, St Albans Crown Court heard.
She killed her after an argument in what prosecutors called a “sustained, brutal and merciless attack”.
Foxwell, of Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, will be sentenced on 20 March.
A jury at St Albans Crown Court found Debby Foxwell, aged 41 and also of Fordwich Road, guilty of her murder. She had previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility.
The jury heard how over the course of many years, the two women had grown to develop a deep dislike and distrust of one another. In July last year, they were both issued with Community Protection Warnings which forbid them from harassment, trespassing or taking photos of one another.
On the day of the murder, the women had been in an argument about a garden fence. Louise called police, concerned that her garden plants were being cut against her will.
Police attended and spoke to both Louise and Foxwell. They gave words of advice after no damage was found and no offences were disclosed.
The court heard that later that evening, Foxwell used a mobile phone to record Louise in her garden. When Louise realised, she grabbed the phone. Foxwell then forced access to her neighbour’s home, armed with a garden spade, and chased Louise outside.
At this point, witnesses who had heard a commotion, saw Foxwell use the spade to repeatedly strike Louise on the head. Ms Lotz suffered a fractured skull and died from a “severe traumatic head injury”.
Police and the ambulance service were called but sadly, Louise was pronounced dead at the scene.
Foxwell was heard to make admissions of guilt and was immediately arrested.
Detective Inspector Iain MacPherson, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said: “This was a nasty, brutal attack for which there was no excuse. Neighbours who saw the attack pleaded for Foxwell to stop but she continued.
“My thoughts are with Louise’s family and friends and I hope that today’s result helps to give them some closure so they can attempt to rebuild their lives.”
In a statement, Louise’s family said: “Louise was a loving mother, sister and grandmother. Her death has come as a shock to us all, we will miss her dearly.
“We are still trying to come to terms with this tragic loss and the circumstances surrounding it, we ask that our privacy is respected at this time.”
Foxwell will appear for sentencing on Friday 20 March.