A GRANDMOTHER was assaulted, sprayed with paint and knocked to the ground by the door of a car driven by her granddaughter’s boyfriend in an early hours’ dispute outside her home.

Durham Crown Court heard the 70-year-old woman was unable to sleep due to the shouting of Martin John Bell, as he argued with his girlfriend, at 4.20am on October 11 last year.

She went out to remonstrate with Bell, who was placing items, including a tv set, into the rear of his car.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said Bell grabbed her tightly round the wrist and sprayed her face and arms with paint.

The shocked grandmother took hold of the car to steady herself, but Bell got into the BMW and began to reverse.

Although she tried to step away, the open driver’s door knocked her to the ground.

Bell then drove away, down Embleton Street, in Seaham, leaving her suffering a bruised wrist and soft tissue damage to her right hip, requiring hospital treatment.

Mr Dryden said when interviewed, Bell denied committing any assault or other offence, claiming his girlfriend came towards him with the spray paint in her hand, which he took from her, causing it to go off in all directions.

He claimed he was just getting into his car to leave and said he did not think the door struck his girlfriend’s grandmother.

The 25-year-old defendant, of Parkside Crescent, Seaham, denied common assault and dangerous driving, but was convicted following a recent trial before magistrates, who sent the case for sentence to the crown court.

His record of 16 convictions includes incidents of violence and animal cruelty.

Andrew Rutter, mitigating, said following his conviction the defendant has acknowledged his guilt to the author of a probation report.

He told the court for the first time in recent years Bell has found a job, starting work recently for a local employer.

“He clearly has a problem with anger and needs to address it or he will keep coming back before the court for longer and longer sentences,” added Mr Rutter.

Judge Jonathan Carroll told Bell: “This was spectacularly mean-spirited bullying of an elderly lady and it must have been terrifying for her.

“It beggars belief that you could walk free after knocking her down in that way.”

He imposed a 17-month prison sentence and banned Bell from driving for 20-months and two weeks.