A financier threatened to murder his neighbour’s cat in an ‘unrestrained’ row over a one-metre square washing machine cupboard ‘worth £75,000’ in Knightsbridge.
Anthony Knight, 72, warned Dr Lydumil Zyapkov to not let his cat Bandit into their shared outside space in Ennismore Gardens Mews, saying: ‘I will kill it.’
He also called Dr Zyapkov a ‘nasty little man’ after his small washing machine cupboard was bricked up from the inside and turned into a utilities space.
Mr Knight clamed he had tried and failed to reason with his neighbour over the ownership of the tiny space, which he claims is worth more than £75,000.
A judge has ordered Dr Zyapkov to return the cupboard to Mr Knight, and to pay more than £100,000 in legal costs.
Judge Jan Luba KC accepted a previous owner of the flat had carried out the ‘land grab’ by bricking up the Knights’ cupboard, and Dr Zyapkov and his wife Juliana Grigore have no rightful claim to keep it.
Mr Knight, a financial consultant, and his 69-year-old wife, Angela Knight, have lived at the house since 1995.
Bank of America market analyst Dr Zyapkov and naval engineer Mrs Grigore bought their neighbouring flat – part of the house which was the final home of actress Ava Gardner – in November 2018 and moved in.
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Anthony Knight threatened to kill his neighbour’s cat in the row (Picture: Nick Edwards)
The disputed cupboard had been accessed by the Knights via an outside door on a communal courtyard between their house and the neighbouring flat, their barrister Gerard van Tonder told the judge.
The space – which during the time they used it was dark, undecorated and full of spiders’ webs – had been storage for their kids’ sports equipment, but as their children grew, it fell out of use around 2010.
But while having a tour of their new neighbours’ flat, Mr Knight discovered the previous owner had smashed through the party wall, annexed the cupboard, bricked it up from the inside and decorated it, he said.
‘If you open the door externally, you would now be confronted by a brick wall,’ said the barrister.
The two couples tried to settle the issue amicably, but ’emotion defeated reason,’ said Judge Luba, and a vicious neighbours’ war erupted over ownership of the space.
The row began over possession of a one metre square washing machine cupboard(Picture: Nick Edwards)
Explaining the importance of the tiny space to Dr Zyapkov and Mrs Grigore, their barrister Tim Becker said: ‘It is a small space – about one metre square – but it houses very neatly my clients’ washing machine and dryer.’
Giving evidence, Mrs Grigore told the judge she bought the flat ‘in the state that it was’ and that the two couples had been on good terms until the row over the cupboard erupted.
‘Our relationship changed because of the ugliness created by the cupboard issue,’ she said.
The judge was shown videos which they claimed backed their claim of harassment against Mr Knight.
In one, he can be heard warning Dr Zyapkov that taking the case to court could end in his ‘ruin’ and losing his job at the Bank of America.
Bandit the cat, who is owned by Dr Lyudmil Zyapkov and wife Juliana Grigore (Picture: Nick Fagge)
The case reached court when Dr Zyapkov and Mrs Grigore sued in a bid to have the cupboard declared part of their property by way of adverse possession, also known as “squatters’ rights.”
The Knights countersued for a declaration that the cupboard remains part of the title to their home.
But the judge criticised both of the men, saying they became ‘obsessed’ over the cupboard and were ‘unable to restrain’ themselves.
He said Dr Zyapkov had become ‘obsessed’ by the cupboard issue, losing all ‘insight and subjectivity’ on the situation, calling police on his neighbours on multiple occasions.
Mr Knight had shown himself ‘unable to restrain or contain himself’ once annoyed, he added, describing the stand-off which culminated in him threatening to kill the cat as ‘awful’.
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The neighbours were ‘unable to restrain themselves’ over the washing machine cupboard.