Dispute between neighbours erupts in violence

BAD feeling between two neighbours erupted in violence over a new fence, a court heard.

Raymond Chaplin was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, on Friday after fracturing the cheek of his neighbour, Neil Armstrong.

Teesside Crown Court heard how a long-running dispute between the men escalated when Chaplin was digging holes for a new fence on land bordering Mr Armstrong’s property and the home of another neighbour.

Mr Armstrong offered to put a fence post in the first hole, but Chaplin became verbally aggressive saying he was not doing the fencing work for the benefit of Mr Armstrong.

Yvonne Taylor, prosecuting, said Chaplin, 43, of William Street, Bishop Auckland, then threatened to chainsaw any posts erected by Mr Armstrong.

The argument continued and Chaplin moved towards his neighbour, but stumbled and fell on him.

The two men struggled on the floor and Mr Armstrong was left with a fracture to his left cheek and a torn tendon in his right arm.

He needed treatment at Darlington Memorial Hospital and James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, where a metal plate was inserted into his cheek.

Christopher Baker, mitigating, said his client was the sole carer for his young son and suffered from depression.

He added: “He accepts that he was a grown man that got himself involved in unacceptable behaviour.

“He realised that he should have walked away that afternoon.”

Mr Baker said his client fell on Mr Armstrong because the ground was uneven and the soles of his shoes were loose.

The incident happened in August. Chaplin pleaded guilty to affray at an earlier hearing.

The court heard he had previous convictions, including one for affray, but had been out of trouble for six years.

Recorder Edward Bindloss told the defendant: “You and your neighbour have lived next to each other since 2009 and I’m told that there have been numerous disputes between you.

“This incident should never have happened. Your neighbour came out of it much worse than you.”

Chaplin was made subject to a supervision order for 18 months, issued with a three-month curfew between 7pm and 7am and ordered to pay £150 costs.

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