Two men spared jail for attacking Harrogate neighbour with iron bar
Last updated Feb 24, 2023

Two middle-aged Harrogate men who took it in turns to beat a man with an iron bar have been spared jail.

Stuart Hall, 50, and David Winter, 49, set about the victim outside his house following a neighbours’ dispute that turned into terrifyingly ugly violence.

Prosecutor Richard Holland said it was the named victim who started the trouble when he came out of his home brandishing an iron bar and using the weapon to strike both Winter and Hall, who lived next door.

Mr Holland said that Hall and the victim “did not get on”.

The victim was aggrieved that Hall, who ran a repair garage, parked his cars outside his home and Hall complained about his neighbour feeding birds which had soiled his roof.

Matters came to a head on July 31 last year when Hall and Winter, who are close friends, returned from the pub.

The victim came running out of his house with an iron bar and struck them with it, but the two men wrestled the weapon from him and “responded with overwhelming force”, said Mr Holland.

They struck the victim with the metal bar and Winter punched him repeatedly after he was knocked to the ground.

Threats to kill

Neighbours recorded the violence which showed that Winter had “completely lost control”.

Hall was punching and striking the prone victim with the weapon as he crouched over him. The court heard Winter added expletives as he shouted:

“I’m going to kill you. Don’t you ever cross us again.”

Winter continued to punch the victim as he told him:

“You are going to die. People are going to kill you.”

He then kicked the victim repeatedly while he was lying helpless on the ground.

Witnesses said both men were hitting the victim with the iron bar at different points during the attack. Mr Holland said:

“They left him lying on the floor and he [then] staggered into his address.”

Neighbours called police who arrived to find the victim “covered in blood”.

He suffered bruising including to his cheekbone and near his eye and a 4cm cut to the back of his head which had to be glued shut. He also suffered a broken finger.

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Hall, of Larkfield Drive, and Winter, of Newby Crescent, admitted wounding. Winter also admitted making a threat to kill.

They appeared for sentence at York Crown Court yesterday, when the prosecution read out a statement from the victim who said he was now “really paranoid” and “always looking over my shoulder” when out in public.

He said the attack had affected his mental health.

Following their arrest, Hall and Winter, who are both working men with families, told police that the victim had come running out of his house brandishing the iron bar and shouting, “Come on then!”

Mr Holland said that Winter had played the “leading role” in the ensuing attack which was “prolonged and persistent”.

Robert Mochrie, representing both defendants, said they were both remorseful and neither man had been in trouble before.

‘Out of character’

Judge Simon Hickey told the two men:

“Both of you know at your age, 49 and 50, you shouldn’t be standing in a crown court dock in front of a crown court judge.”

He said although the victim had started the trouble, they had “attacked a man on the ground [with an] evil weapon”, adding:

“You could have killed him or left him with life-changing injuries.”

He criticised Winter for his “obscene remarks” to the victim and threats to kill, although acknowledged they were “completely out of character”.

He also noted that the two defendants had been injured themselves and one had been struck on the forehead with the iron bar.

Mr Hickey said that despite the seriousness of the violence, he could suspend the inevitable jail sentences in both their cases because they would lose their jobs and their homes if they were imprisoned and the impact on their families would be “devastating”.

Winter was given an 18-month suspended prison sentence and Hall received a nine-month suspended jail term. They were each ordered to carry out 100 hours’ unpaid work and pay £600 prosecution costs.