A Fife business owner has told how she has had to move home after a cafe venture with a former friend collapsed amid threats and intimidation.
Cardenden cafe owner Kirsty Brennan told her business partner Yvonne Hodge: “I’ll batter you … you won’t have a face to put back together” after becoming enraged at how she prepared food for the day.
It was one of a series of messages which ended their relationship and saw Brennan fined at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court.
Mrs Hodge was subjected to more than 100 abusive text messages from Brennan and said the vitriol became so bad she has had to move house, having previously lived in the same street as her tormentor.
The pair took over Dave’s Diner in Cardenden in July 2019 but it had not been reopened for even a week, as Grafters Grub, before their working relationship crumbled.
At Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court, Fiscal depute Jill Currie said: “In July last year the complainer bought a coffee shop in Cardenden and she and the accused agreed to be business partners for this.
“There was a falling out to do with the running of the business.
“On November 16 things began to escalate.
“There were messages from the accused sent to the complainer complaining food had not been prepared the way she liked it at the business.
“On November 20 she started to send threatening and abusive messages.
“One said ‘see you the day’ followed by three fist icons.”
She said other messages contained swearing and abusive terms, culminating in her saying: “I will be down and I’ll batter your puss in.
“You won’t have a face to put back together this time, I’ll make sure of it.”
She also demanded that cash be put into her bank account.
Brennan, of Bluebell Gardens, Cardenden, admitted sending offensive messages to Yvonne Hodge from an address in the town between November 20 and 21 last year.
‘It got really nasty’
Yvonne told The Courier the pair had been previously close and had rekindled their friendship after a decade-long hiatus.
Having been tempted to purchase a burger van, Yvonne was able to invest savings and online bingo winnings into the Station Road cafe in 2020.
She was planning to then sell her share of the business to ex-neighbour Brennan when she retired.
However, cracks in the partnership showed over her perception of the work put in by Brennan renovating the cafe.
Tensions escalated over the quality of the outlet’s soup, Yvonne said.
The bombardment of intimidation lasted throughout the cafe’s reopening week and terrified Yvonne says the business suffered from the atmosphere.
“She blew over a pot of soup,” Yvonne said.
“It’s beyond me. It got really nasty.
“I had nights of not being able to sleep.
“My confidence took a knock and we ended up having to move.”
Lost redundancy money
Brennan’s solicitor said her client had sunk thousands of pounds of redundancy money into the venture but it had turned sour.
She said: “She accepts she just lost it.
“The messages are extremely unpleasant and she accepts that.
“She could have dealt with matters in a different way, she didn’t need to respond in this way.
“She put all her money into this business and felt she was being taken a loan of.
“She felt she had lost her money.
“She describes going into business as a bad decision.”
Sheriff James MacDonald said he recognised that this was a “time of clear stress” for Brennan and fined her £300.
Yvonne said: “It’s nothing.
“She’d have been better suited to completing unpaid work.”