Mother, 53, is hauled to court over ‘rude’ gesture that turned out to be yoga after neighbours at her seaside home accused the designer of harassment

  • Sheila Jacklin fell out with her neighbours in Norman’s Bay, East Sussex
  • Hundreds of CCTV clips showing her praying on the beach were sent to police
  • Hastings Magistrates Court later decided not to impose a restraining order

For 27 years, Sheila Jacklin has practised yoga on the beach outside her home, often saying a prayer in a quiet moment of contemplation.

The designer can be seen every day on the shore, lost in concentration with her arms held aloft and fingers pointing to the sky, a picture of relaxation.

But neighbours of her £600,000 seaside home were far from calm when they saw the pose, accusing her of deliberately raising her middle finger at them.

Hundreds of CCTV clips showing Sheila Jacklin (pictured) praying on the beach were sent to police after her neighbours said she was harassing them

Hundreds of CCTV clips showing Sheila Jacklin (pictured) praying on the beach were sent to police after her neighbours said she was harassing them

Hundreds of CCTV clips showing her praying were sent to police, who decided to charge her with harassment.

But when Mrs Jacklin, 53, appeared before Hastings magistrates, the court took less than 15 minutes to throw the case out, to the relief of the mother-of-two and her children.

Now Mrs Jacklin, a Hindu, has threatened to take action against police for a ‘sustained campaign of racial and religiously motivated harassment’.

The case came after a long battle between the warring neighbours. 

Mrs Jacklin and her husband Nigel, 57, a marketing consultant, were banned last year from looking at the next door property in the hamlet of Norman’s Bay, East Sussex, after falling out with their neighbours over building work. 

In 2013 clinical psychologist Dr Stephane Duckett and his partner Norinne Betjemann bought a workshop opposite the Jacklins’ five-bedroom house.

The workshop was converted into a £400,000 weekend property to the fury of the Jacklins, who complained about their neighbours to the authorities. 

The designer can be seen every day on the shore of Norman's Bay, East Sussex, lost in concentration with her arms held aloft and fingers pointing to the sky (stock image)

The designer can be seen every day on the shore of Norman’s Bay, East Sussex, lost in concentration with her arms held aloft and fingers pointing to the sky (stock image)

But Rother District Council handed the Jacklins a Community Protection Warning Letter (CPWL), which banned them from walking directly past their neighbours’ home. 

Police warned the couple they faced prosecution if they were ‘perceived by any person to be looking into any neighbour’s property’.

In August last year the CPWL expired and so Mrs Jacklin continued her daily yoga and prayers, using a Mudra symbolic gesture with her fingers.

Police investigated, but in court prosecutor Paul Lamb said he would be offering no evidence. 

However, he asked the court to impose a restraining order to stop Mrs Jacklin contacting Mr Duckett or Miss Betjemann or praying outside their house. 

Magistrates decided not to impose the order.

Yesterday Mrs Jacklin said: ‘This has been a sustained campaign of racial and religiously motivated harassment of my family by our neighbours and Sussex Police. 

‘This should never have come to court. 

‘I told the police it was to do with my Indian heritage and my yogic prayers. 

‘It’s been a total attack on Hinduism and highly offensive to call my Mudra an ‘F-you’ gesture.’

Sussex Police said: ‘The prosecution had been authorised by the CPS. We are not in a position to comment further.’ 

Dr Duckett and Miss Betjemann were not available for comment. 

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