Neighbour uses sledgehammer to attack woman next door's home after row over garden fence

Dilhorne Road/Sledgehammer

A pensioner threatened his next door neighbour with a sledgehammer after the pair rowed over a garden fence

Google Street View/Getty
Holly Bishop

By Holly Bishop

Published: 29/05/2024

- 10:08

A pensioner wielded the tool over his head and then towards his neighbour in a 'threatening motion'

A pensioner threatened his next door neighbour with a sledgehammer after the pair rowed over a garden fence.

Thomas Howell, 86, was at loggerheads with the woman next door over a fence which runs between their properties in Dilhorne, Staffordshire.

Howell placed bricks on his side of the wall to increase the size, however his neighbour then pushed them off as she felt they were a “hazard”, North Staffordshire Justice Centre heard.

The 86-year-old, in a rage, went over to her home and hit the door with a sledgehammer. He then wielded the tool above his head, which left his neighbour terrified and scared of being “harmed” by Howell.


Howell picked up a sledgehammer and hit the door of his neighbour's property

Wikimedia Commons

The victim fitted a camera to have video evidence if there was any trouble, who claimed that Howell had also previously caused damage to the fence.

Howell pleaded guilty to using threatening words or behaviour and was given 12-month conditional discharge.

Prosecutor Lee Stone said: "They share a fence. The victim says he has caused damage to the fence before.

“On January 25 the defendant placed breeze blocks along the top of the fence. The victim had pushed them off. She felt they were a hazard.


“The defendant appeared at the property holding a sledgehammer. He hit the door causing damage to the door frame.

“The victim approached the defendant. She says he threatened her with the sledgehammer. He wielded it towards her in a threatening motion. She felt she was going to be caused harm by the defendant."

Mark Bromley, mitigating, said: “He built a wall on his side of the boundary and the neighbour’s attached wooden fencing. She has run lights off the top of the fencing.

"He intended to build up his wall on his side. He went to fetch his tools. He found the bricks had been pushed over onto his side.

Bromley said the pushed bricks “triggered” Howell to go round to his next door neighbour’s property and wield the tool in a threatening manner.

North Staffordshire Justice Centre

The 86-year-old went over to her home and hit the door with a sledgehammer, North Staffordshire Justice Centre heard

Google Street View

He said that since the incident in January, there have been no further disturbances.

Speaking of Howell and his wife, who have lived in the bungalow for 46 years, Bromley added: “They just want to live a quiet and peaceful life. They just want to live the rest of their life in peace.”

Deputy District Judge Andrew Teate described the disturbance as an isolated incident and ordered him to pay £85 costs and a £26 surcharge.

Concluding, he said: “There are always two sides to every story. Given your age and lack of offending something must have riled you on that day.

“Something must have caused you to act in the manner you did. You banged on the door forcefully. When she came from the address you raised the hammer over your head.”

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