A long-running feud descended into dangerous car chases and violence when two gangs clashed in broad daylight.

John Wright armed himself with a baseball as the two warring sides pursued each other around the streets of a County Durham village.

CCTV footage showed several cars chasing each other before the car driven by the complainant reversed at high speed into a Mercedes being driven by Wright.

Teesside Crown Court heard how people jumped out of the Mercedes and launched an attack on their victim as he tried to flee the scene.

Paul Abrahams, prosecuting, the trouble flared when Wright and his accomplices turned up at the complainant’s sister’s home on Railway Street, Craghead, and started smashing up two cars.

The court watched as the VW Passat rammed into the Mercedes before Wright jumped out of the car and started attacking the victim through the car window.

Mr Abrahams said Wright and an unknown man chased down the victim before battering him with a baseball bat and slashing at him with a scythe.

The court heard how the man suffered multiple slash injuries, inflicted by the unidentified man, but the violent attack was part of a joint enterprise between the pair.

“The defendant played a leading role in the violent disorder but I accept that the wounds themselves were caused by the action of the other person,” he said.

“This is some sort of feud, although the details are murky about what has gone on, it is clear that there is a feud between two groups.”

The Northern Echo: John WrightJohn Wright (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Wright, of Fellside View, Burnhope, County Durham, pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, criminal damage, violent disorder, and possession of an offensive weapon, following the violence of August 26 last year.

The court heard how the defendant had previous convictions for weapons offence dating back a decade.

Helen Towers, mitigating, said the businessman accepts that he has brought shame on himself and his family following his behaviour on that day.

She added: “He thought his employees were stealing from him and that is the birth of the feud but he says someone stealing from him and damaging his cars is not something that he would risk his family life and liberty.

“He says ‘I have played tit-for-tat and that is shameful’.”

Judge Timothy Stead locked up Wright for a total of three years for his role in the violence.

“It is clear that the two groups had a longstanding feud with animosity flowing both ways. It was tit-for-tat in the early stages but matters escalated to this event in August last year,” he said.

See more court stories from The Northern Echo by clicking here

Get more from The Northern Echo with a digital subscription. Click here

The Northern Echo:

“You appeared very quickly on the scene brandishing a baseball bat. It was you who was first into action in terms of violence.

“You began an attack on the driver of the vehicle and it is apparent that ill-will was borne to him by you.

“You and another pursued him a relatively short distance where the attack continued on him. He was beaten and brought to the ground and ultimately, he was struck with a scythe – it was not in your personal possession but you were joint in part to this attack.”

Wright was also made subject of a ten-year restraining order.