A man has avoided jail after hitting a resident of his street with a golf club in a mistaken revenge attack.
John Hunt mistakenly believed the victim was responsible for the fire at his Palmersville home in April last year. A court heard this prompted the 45-year-old to show up at the man’s address, just 100 yards from his own, two nights in a row armed with a golf club.
The first time Hunt smashed the windows of the man’s father’s van, but things turned more violent when he returned the following night and used the gun to hit him twice in the arm and body . Fortunately, the victim suffered only redness and bruising.
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Hunt, of Laurel Place, Palmersville, near Benton, was arrested but pleaded not guilty to one count of assault causing actual bodily harm and criminal damage. However, he changed his pleas on the day his trial was due.
Niamh Reading, prosecuting at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, said the victim’s mother was home alone in the house she shared with him and her husband on the evening of April 23 last year when she heard their van alarm go off outside. It was later noted that the vehicle’s rear window had been smashed and part of a golf club had been left inside.
Hunt returned a few hours later and, after walking past the house several times, approached the front door. Miss Reading said: “She went to the front door to open it. The defendant said ‘You know what your son did’. Her son was not home at the time . She asked if it had anything to do with what happened to their van. The accused was Nnon, but there’s worse to come.”
The court heard that the next evening the victim and his father were in the house when the van alarm sounded again and Hunt was seen outside carrying a golf club. The older man confronted Hunt and asked him what his problem was before being joined by his son.
Miss Reading added: “The defendant said ‘Your son burned down my house’. [The victim’s father] said “It’s not possible, he was in my house”. [The victim] then intervened between the accused and his father. At that time, the accused struck the victim twice very hard in the left arm with the golf club.”
The court was told the trio argued for another 10 minutes until Hunt walked away.
In a statement, the victim said: “This incident was very upsetting as my mum and dad were stressed from what they saw and no one should have to go through this in their own home.” The victim’s father added: ‘Nobody should have to see their son get hit with a golf club and that shocked me.
Defending Mark Harrison said Hunt suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder at the time, which was not being properly treated. He continued: ‘For two days Mr. Hunt behaved both stupidly and unlawfully.’ The court heard the attack took place because Hunt mistakenly believed the victim had set his house on fire.
Sentencing Hunt to a 26-week prison sentence suspended for 18 months, District Judge Kate Meek said: “This case involves you going to someone’s address and assaulting someone with a weapon, that weapon being a golf club. You used it to assault them, hitting them in the arm and body and luckily causing limited injury. In your mind, it was a revenge attack.
Hunt must also adhere to a 16-week curfew between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and must pay a total of £400 in compensation and £600 in costs. He was also given an 18-month restraining order prohibiting him from contacting the victim or his parents or showing up at their home.