Bacup pensioner assaulted neighbours, court told

Harry Ferris outside court

Harry Ferris outside court

First published in News Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Chief reporter

A HUSBAND and wife were attacked by an angry next door neighbour after a bitter dispute over boundaries, a court heard.

Hilda Hellawell claims Harry Ferris, 65, hurled obscenities at her before thrusting his head at her, Burnley magistrates were told.

And on Christmas Eve last year, her husband Philip alleges that Ferris tried to gouge his eyes out before throwing him over a gate.

Ferris denies two offences of assault in relation to the alleged attack on Mrs Hellawell, on August 26, and her husband on December 24 last year.

Prosecutor Philip Hall told the court that the Hellawells had lived at their home at 1 and 2 Bull Hall, Bacup, since 1986.

But since Ferris and his wife moved in to 3 Bull Hall, in around 2010, there had been disputes between the two couples over access and parking relating to their adjoining properties.

Magistrates heard that there had been civil litigation over the matters, which was due to resolved at Manchester County Court early next year.

The court heard Mrs Hellawell had been gardening with her friend Theresa Orton when she closed a gate on the property, so her pet dog would not escape.

Ferris is said to have been initially abusive over her closing the gate before returning a short time later.

Mrs Hellawell told the court she went to fetch a hosepipe and threw it over a fence to her friend when Ferris returned.

She told magistrates he hurled derogatory comments at her and advanced towards her.

"Mr Ferris was towering over me, getting closer, shouting at the top of his voice, which continued for a while. Then he turned away, then he turned back and our foreheads connected."

She said she was 'shocked and surprised', and initially carried on gardening with her friend, who urged her to call the police, which her husband later did.

Mr Hall said that the second incident occurred when Mr Hellawell was repairing a gate at the property.

Mr Hellawell told the court that when Ferris approached a confronta-tion ended with Mr Hellawell being hurled over the gate.

He said Ferris punched him in the gut and tried to headbutt him before attempting to gouge his eyes with his fingers.

“I ended up toppling over the gate and onto some stone steps,” he added.

CCTV footage of both incidents were played in court, alongside an audio recording of the second confrontation.

Brian Koffman, defending, said it was apparent from the footage that Mr Hellawell had raised his arm towards his client's throat, as he walked towards him.

Mr Koffman said: 'What I am suggesting is in the heat of the moment he could have interpreted that as an offensive act and felt the need to defend himself."

But Mr Hellawell said: “It was a defensive action which I did out of self preservation.”

The trial continues.

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