A MAN in his 60s is beginning his first custodial sentence for a vicious pub toilet assault on an older man, thought to have arisen from a neighbours’ dispute.

Philip Robinson was convicted of an attack in which he is said to have repeatedly stamped on the 71-year-old on the floor of the gents at the Fox and Hounds, in Kirk Merrington, on April 18, 2018.

The victim, who staggered from the toilets covered in blood, suffered facial fractures.

Durham Crown Court heard that police were called and Robinson was arrested.

He told police he found the victim lying on the floor already injured when he visited the toilet.

But after a four-day trial, at the court in March, the 63-year-old defendant, of Jowsey Place, Kirk Merrington, who denied wounding with intent, was found guilty by the jury.

The court heard he has only one past conviction, for battery, in April 2016, for which he received a conditional discharge.

Chris Baker, in mitigation, told the sentencing hearing: “He’s 62 and spent the majority of his life working hard as a law-abiding citizen.

“There are two references uploaded painting a picture of a family man.”

Mr Baker spoke of the long delay in the case coming to court, causing the defendant anxiety and depressive symptoms, while his family has also suffered with the stress of proceedings hanging over him.

Recorder Carl Gumsley, however, pointed out that part of that delay was down to the defendant denying the offence, requiring a trial.

“The delay would have been reduced if he had pleaded guilty in a case where the evidence was strong.”

Imposing a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence, Recorder Gumsley told Robinson: “It’s not entirely clear what was behind it, but it undoubtedly stems from some sort of neighbour dispute in that village.

“I sentence you on the basis it was it was not significantly pre-planned, but you took the opportunity to attack that man when you came across him in the manner you did and the jury found that you intended to do him serious harm.

“He was lucky the injuries were not as serious as they might have been.

“Fortunately, he has recovered to an extent, but I accept fully what he says in his impact statement that he had significant discomfort and pain and has had since.”

Although he did not put in place a restraining order, Recorder Gumsley said the licence conditions on the defendant’s release from prison should ensure Robinson avoids contacting or approaching the victim.