Louise Lotz murder case: court hears former councillor bludgeoned with spade while pleading to be let into neighbour’s house
PUBLISHED: 15:24 11 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:28 11 February 2020
A Welwyn Garden City woman’s ‘visceral hatred’ of her untidy, hoarding next-door-neighbour led her to bludgeon her to death with a garden spade.
Debby Foxwell, 40, blamed the state of former Welwyn Hatfield Councillor Louise Lotz's mid-terraced home for her inability to sell her own home following years of bad feeling, a jury heard today.
After the 64-year-old snatched her phone during a row in the back garden, Debby Foxwell grabbed a spade from her garden shed.
Foxwell kicked opened the front door of Louise's home and used the spade to smash a television and laptop.
Louise Lotz, who was calling the police, had been hiding but ran outside to another neighbour's home shouting: "Help me, help me!"
St Albans crown court was told Debby Foxwell followed and attacked her.
She returned home telling her partner: "It's over. I have done it."
At St Albans crown court, Debby Foxwell denies murdering Louise Lotz in Fordwich Road, Welwyn Garden City on the evening of Saturday August 24 last year.
The jury of 5 men and 7 women have been told she has pleaded guilty to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility.
Opening the case prosecutor Alan Blake said: "It was a sustained, brutal and merciless attack."
He said: "At around 8pm on a late Summer's day last year, after a day of tension and disputes over the fence, this defendant went to her shed in her back garden and picked up a spade.
"She walked through her house, number 10, and kicked open the door of number 8 in a furious rage. She used a spade to smash electrical items in the lounge before pursuing her neighbour, who made a run for safety.
"Louise Lotz got to the front door of number 6. Debby Foxwell caught her and repeatedly bludgeoned her with a spade, before causing catastrophic injuries to her head."
The prosecutor said: "The sustained ferocity of the attack and the number of blows make it plain she intended to kill her and she succeed in doing so."
The jury heard Louise Lotz had lived at number 8 for many years and had a lodger Liam Graham. "She was something of an untidy hoarder. The rear garden was overgrown and unloved. The interior was cluttered," said Mr Blake.
Louise had a fraught relationship with the neighbours at number six. Debby Foxwell moved into number 10 five years before the killing.
The prosecutor went on: "Initially relations were cordial, but they swiftly deteriorated. As so often in neighbours' disputes, it began over petty matters: boundaries, bins, and borders."
From 2015 onwards, disputes between the pair were frequently reported to the police by both parties. Officers kept running logs of their disputes.
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Debby Foxwell was prosecuted for assault and criminal damage in 2016 against Louise. In the same year her husband Paul died from cancer. By 2019 she was in a new relationship with Anthony Broom. "She (Debby Foxwell) was seeking to move away from the address in Welwyn Garden City. She blamed Louise Lotz, rightly or wrongly, for not being able to sell her property."
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.
Mr Blake said the defendant's "Visceral hatred of Louise Lotz intensified."
READ MORE: Welwyn Garden City woman charged with murder after woman in her 60s dies in street
On 31 July, a security doorbell recorded Debby Foxwell walking past and swinging her bag into Louise's head as she tended plants in her front garden.
The jury heard on the day of the killing Debby Foxwell and her partner had been removing garden panels, adjoining the victim's garden, to paint them.
During the course of a row, both women had called the police. At around 8pm, Louise Lotz was filmed by Debby Foxwell on her mobile as she moved an orange wheelie bin to the gap in the fence.
Louise then grabbed the phone and ran into her home pursued by Debby Foxwell, who threw clay pots and a lawnmower against one of Louise Lotz's windows.
The victim was on the phone to the police as Debby Foxwell went to her shed to collect the spade.
Louise Lotz's lodger Liam Graham told the jury: "The house was a shambles. Louise was a bit of a hoarder. The house was a mess. The rear garden was hardly tended to."
He said Debby's garden was "perfect."
On the evening of the killing, warehouse worker Mr Graham said he saw Debby pick up clay pots and throw them at the window and then swing the lawn mower at the door. Then he heard a noise and saw her in the lounge.
He said: "Debby had a spade in her hand. She said 'Where is she?' I said 'Who?' She said 'You know who.' I said: 'I don't know where she is.
"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.
Mr Graham said Debby Foxwell then said: "There is the bitch" as Louise ran out of the house.
"Nobody else compelled her to behave in the manner she did."
He said Louise was pleading on the door of number six "hammering away like mad" saying "help me help me".
Debby Foxwell turned the spade into something like a machete by turning it on her side and hit her four or five times, he said. Mostly it hit her head.
"I was close enough to hear everything. I was screaming at her to stop. I tried to intervene once. She turned and said 'You best stay out of the way if you know what's good for you.'"
He said Debby walked off. She is alleged to have told her partner: "It's over. I have done it."
The case continues.