'It was horrendous!' Pensioner left with fractured eye socket amid fierce hedge row with neighbours

​Brian Saunders was jailed for three years and nine months

Brian Saunders was jailed for three years and nine months

NORTHUMBRIA POLICE
Jack Walters

By Jack Walters


Published: 29/01/2024

- 09:45

Brian Saunders was jailed for three years and nine months after being found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent

A pensioner was left with a fractured eye socket following a fierce row between neighbours about trimming a hedge.

Brian Saunders, 52, also left Wendy Douglas, 70, with a broken collar bone and ribs during the incident.


Jurors at Newcastle Crown Court were told Douglas lived next door to Saunders' parents on the Kingston Park estate.

However, a dispute arose on June 12, 2021, over a fence and an ivy bush.

The dispute took place after a row about cutting a hedge

The dispute took place after a row about cutting a hedge

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Douglas started trimming a bush she claimed was in her garden.

Her neighbour then came out and began shouting at her before returning to his property.

The resident later returned and demanded the cuttings from the plant.

Douglas, who was 68 at the time, claimed Saunders later arrived and assaulted the pensioner after a conversation about putting up a new fence.

Saunders, from Melness Road in Hazlerigg, was jailed for three years and nine months after a jury found him guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Douglas said: “It was horrendous. I was frightened. But it all happened so fast.

“It was over in seconds, but it it didn't seem like that. You should be safe in your home.”

Ascot Walk on the Kingston Estate

Ascot Walk on the Kingston Estate

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The 70-year-old, who worked as a shop assistant before retiring and now volunteers at the Freeman Hospital, also claimed there had been a disagreement between herself and her neighbours after a bush from their garden began growing over her fence.

However, Douglas stressed she never imagined the dispute turning violent.

She added: “It was just an ivy hedge that was growing on our wood fence.

“It just started with a polite conversation. I just started asking.

“I didn't expect anything to come of that. It was just a bit of a disagreement. Then we just stopped speaking because it was getting nowhere.

“It was totally out of the blue. I have never spoken to him before. I thought it would be a bit of verbal. I would never have imagined it would turn to violence.

“I'm still friends with the neighbours from the first house I have ever lived in from the 70s. I have never had bad neighbours before.”

Judge Sarah Mallett also opted to impose a restraining order against Saunders for 10-years.

However, the 52-year-old is still allowed to visit his parents.

Judge Mallett said: “You are 52 years of age and have no relevant offending history.

"You are to be sentenced for the extremely serious offence of grievous bodily harm with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

“At about 12.30pm on June 12, 2021, following a dispute between your father and Wendy Douglas about plants growing on the border between the two gardens, you approached Wendy Douglas to discuss the matter. She did not want to engage in any discussion with you – and you saw red.

“You ran at her and knocked her out of her chair with a punch.

"You knelt on her chest and, with both hands around her neck, you pinned her there and then punched her to the face again.

Saunders appeared at Newcastle Crown Court

Saunders appeared at Newcastle Crown Court

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“She said, ‘I have got you now,’ and then you continued to punch her and then shouted, ‘I’m sick of this,’ and told her to, ‘Get it sorted.’

“There were neighbours who heard screaming.”

Judge Mallet continued: “[Wendy Douglas] said at the time she thought she was going to die from strangulation. She was a 68-year-old female on her own at home and was seated [at the time.]”

Douglas described the length of time between the incident and Saunders' sentencing as “ridiculous” but stressed she was “pleased” to get her day in court.

Saunders was found not guilty of a charge of theft charge relating to an accusation that he stole Wendy's phone during the attack.

In mitigation, Helen Towers said: “It was three-and-a-half years ago, and having been on bail the whole time with the condition not to contact the prosecution witness, there have been no difficulties since.”

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