Spanish pianist may face jail over neighbour’s noise complaint
Woman accused of causing ‘psychological injuries’ over claims she played eight hours a day
Laia Martínez’s neighbour charges that the piano playing not only disturbed her while it was being played, but that it caused her long-term psychological disturbances, including insomnia, anxiety and panic attacks.
Laia Martínez could face seven years in prison and be barred from carrying out her chosen profession if found guilty. Her crime? Playing the piano.
Ms Martínez (27) is on trial in Girona, northeastern Spain, this week for allegedly inflicting psychological torture on a former neighbour and breaking noise-pollution laws when practising the piano in her home as a student.
The noise-pollution charge carries with it a possible jail term of six years, with a further 18 months for causing “psychological injuries”.
Ms Martínez, who is now a professional pianist, could also be banned from performing for financial reward for up to four years and face a hefty fine.
Sonia Bossoms, who lived upstairs from the defendant, claims that between 2003 and 2007, Ms Martínez played the piano up to eight hours each day and five days a week at an unacceptable volume.
The neighbour charges that the music not only disturbed her while it was being played, but that it caused her long-term psychological disturbances, including insomnia, anxiety and panic attacks. The complainant also says the loud music affected the latter stages of her pregnancy ahead of the birth of her son in 2006.
‘Nerves on edge’
“My nerves were on edge, I was anxious, I would snap at my family,” Ms Bossoms told the court.
“There was even a time when I couldn’t move my arm because of the anxiety.”
She was given medical leave from her job due to her condition and eventually moved with her family to Galicia, northwestern Spain, to escape the noise, she says.
Ms Martínez’s parents are also in court accused of being accomplices, because the pianist was living in their home during the period in question.
All three insist that the charges are disproportionate and that the defendant did not even play the piano as much as is claimed, because she was studying and working at the time.
They say they responded to an early complaint by the neighbour by attempting to soundproof the room where Ms Martínez played – albeit to no avail.
A recent study by the INE statistics institute found that about 15 per cent of Spanish households suffered noisy neighbours or bothersome noise outside their home, such as traffic or bars open late. The Balearic Islands and Andalusia were the regions with the most noise, the report said.