A WOMAN who attacked a neighbour with a gardening tool after he complained about a noisy party has been spared jail.

Helen Stephenson, 62, struck the man several times on the head and back with a lawn edging tool seconds after husband, Alan Stephenson, 58, attempted to punch him in the face.

Teesside Crown Court heard the couple had “bad blood” with their neighbours and police were called to their home in Chester-le-Street following noise complaints last February.

But after officers left the area, the pair attacked their neighbour, leaving the man with several lacerations to his back and a head injury.

Paul Abrahams, prosecuting, said: “There was some bad blood between those involved. A party was going on in the lead up to the police being called. There had been previous complaints of noise disruption. Police attended, there was some noise but nothing that caused serious problems and they left.

“At that point the complainant went to speak to the Stephensons. There was some mouthing and went to talk about it outside. Mrs Stephenson punches him in the face, knocking his glasses off. Mr Stephenson then became involved and threw a punch which he missed.

“The complainant then punched Mr Stephenson and they fell to the floor. Mrs Stephenson picked up a spade which was removed by the complainant’s wife. She then picked up a lawn edging tool and hit the complainant on the head and back.

“He sustained a number of lacerations on the back and a wound to his head. It was a sustained assault given the number of blows. He had to have 14 staples.”

Mr Abrahams added that the attack has scarred the man for life and left his wife, who witnessed the assault, traumatised and fearing for her safety.

But Laurie Scott, defending Mrs Stephenson, said her client’s mental health deteriorated after she suffered a work injury and the assault, which the couple claimed was down to noisy DIY work and vacuuming, was out of character.

She said: “Helen shows genuine remorse and it has been a living nightmare. She found the whole episode difficult to comprehend when she saw the footage and images of the injuries she is responsible for.”

Lewis Kerr, defending Mr Stephenson, added his client was regretted the attack and also suffered a work injury which has left him unemployed.

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC said: “There was no good reason to explain what you did. You saw the injuries you have caused, there is no justification for what you did.

“Mrs Stephenson, you saw your husband on the ground and took up a weapon, the injuries could have been a lot worse. But you have had the good sense to move away from the neighbourhood.”

But the 62-year-old woman, who pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm, was spared jail and instead handed a 15 month sentence suspended for two years, a three month curfew and order to pay £1,000 in victim compensation.

Mr Stephenson, who admitted to affray and now lives in Mountside Gardens, Gateshead, with his wife was fine £750.