A NEIGHBOURS’ dispute turned into a “highly volatile situation”, as damage was caused and violence erupted in a street late at night, a court was told.

Amanda Timney and partner Gary Hill were both jailed for their “overreaction” to the daubing of the word: ‘Scumbags’ outside their home in Easington Colliery, County Durham, on October 28, last year.

Durham Crown Court heard they had been in a dispute with a couple living over the road, in Barwick Street, over money said to have been owed for a petrol payment.

Stephen Littlewood, prosecuting, said “substantial animosity” developed and the defendants believed the neighbouring couple were responsible for daubing the offensive remark.

Mr Littlewood said the couple opposite were alerted by screaming and heard a smashing noise outside their home, at 10.30pm.

On checking, they discovered Timney and Hill had smashed the windscreen of a Ford Focus and a side window of a Skoda Octavia, both belonging to the couple, parked outside their home.

When they went out to confront them, as other neighbours in the street emerged to find out what was causing the commotion, Timney produced a large kitchen knife which she struck the woman with, causing a 1.5cm laceration to the top of her head.

The court was told the victim and others in the street retaliated and Timney received some, “summary justice”, as she was kicked while the knife was prised from her grasp.

She managed to retreat to her own house, while the male living opposite emerged with a golf club, which he used to smash a window at the defendants’ home.

Hill responded by throwing some household ammonia into his face, causing an immediate reddening and irritation.

Mr Littlewood said the victim’s face was washed at the scene by the emergency services and, although he went to hospital to be checked, there was no long-term damage caused.

His partner also went to hospital for the injury to her forehead, which was treated by way of a single stitch.

On arrest, Timney claimed she acted in “self-defence”, while Hill made “no comment” replies to police questions.

Timney, 37, and 41-year-old Hill, both now said to be of Shotton Colliery, each admitted causing criminal damage.

But Timney also admitted unlawful wounding and possessing an offensive weapon, while Hill admitted assault causing actual bodily harm, although some of those pleas were only made on the day of their scheduled recent trial.

Both were said to have lengthy records, for mainly acquisitive crime.

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Michael Cahill, for Hill, said there was a “significant element” of provocation and self-defence involved and they had contacted police themselves earlier that evening, but he conceded their response was, “unacceptable”.

Mr Cahill said Hill had a long-standing drug addiction for which he is working to overcome.

He added that Hill and his partner have since moved away from the Easington area.

Mark Styles, for Timney, said she and her partner reacted to having their window put out and glass showered over her earlier in the evening.

He said when she went out into the street she was in, “a highly anxious” state.

Mr Styles told the court they had been subject to harassment, themselves, and suffered damage to a car.

Judge Ray Singh told the defendants: “There’s clearly a background involving a dispute with neighbours, but I note you have had difficulties with neighbours over a number of years and been convicted in the past.”

He said while it was suggested there were, “elements of provocation”, and they may have considered they were acting in self-defence, it was, “an overreaction”, in, "a highly volatile situation."

Adding: “These are serious offences of violence with weapons being used”, Judge Singh said it was only "good fortune" more serious injuries were not inflicted.

Jailing Timney for 19 months and Hill for 14 months, he made both subject to a restraining order relating to their former neighbours, each for five years.

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