A long-running neighbour’s dispute erupted in violence after two men’s paths crossed in their respective vehicles one morning, a court heard.

Malcolm Scott was leaving his home in Pontop Court, Stanley, in his van as his next-door neighbour’s father was reversing onto his daughter’s drive way, at 8.45am on April 14.

Durham Crown Court was told as the two vehicles passed, brief eye contact was made between the drivers.

Neil Jones, prosecuting, said the van braked sharply and as the visiting father got out of his car on the drive way of his daughter’s home, 66-year-old Scott ran towards him and launched an attack with a flurry of punches.

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The petrified 72-year-old victim fell to the ground and hit his head on the drive, causing bleeding.

Scott then sat astride him and landed more blows, before picking up a large stone with which he appeared to be about to strike him.

The injured man managed to reach up and grab Scott’s wrist to prevent him completing the blow.

Scott then got up and ran off to his van, leaving the other man bleeding on the drive way.

Mr Jones said the victim was taken to hospital suffering facial and other head injuries, including a small swelling to the left side of the face and forehead, and two lacerations to the nasal bridge.

When police spoke to Scott he made immediate admissions but referred to the build-up to the incident, saying he acted under, “extreme provocation”.

He said he had problems with neighbours, past and present, with the latest source of dispute over alterations on the other side of the fence.

Mr Jones said it led to the exchange of solicitors’ letters with a degree of hostility between the respective parties for more than two years.

Scott claimed there had been “provocation” but he accepted there was no excuse for taking the law into his own hands.

“He’s a man of previous good character but he knows he did wrong,” said Mr Jones.

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The defendant, who was not represented, admitted assault causing actual bodily harm.

Mr Jones said the victim struggled to sleep after the attack and felt he was always on edge.

He was left on painkillers and said he did not feel safe visiting his daughter’s house, now deliberately parking some distance away and then locking himself into her home on arrival.

Her family was even fearful of walking their dog in the aftermath of the incident.

Judge James Adkin told Scott it had been, “a nasty” incident, and a “frightening” experience for the neighbour’s father.

“There was the background of a neighbours’ dispute and you lost your temper and punched him to the ground.

“It has caused upset and fear for the victim’s family.

“He’s a pensioner and the last thing he wants in his life is to be subject to such an attack.”

The judge said there had been a build-up of tension, but he accepted Scott had never previously been in trouble and has been a hard worker all his life.

He imposed a four-month 7pm to 7am home curfew, with a two-year restraining order forbidding Scott from contacting or approaching his victim or going beyond the curtilage of the neighbouring home.

Judge Adkin warned Scott: “Don’t talk to him or engage with him.

“These neighbours’ problems have got to come to an end.

“You can’t afford to be involved in another violent incident Mr Scott.”

The defendant was also ordered to pay his victim £750 compensation, within six months, plus a £95 statutory court surcharge.

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