Cranbrook assault conviction upheld at appeal

PUBLISHED: 15:32 28 June 2019

Exeter Crown Court.

Exeter Crown Court.

Archant

Man who attacked his neighbour claimed he had been the victim himself, but his appeal was rejected at Exeter Crown Court

An ex-soldier attacked a neighbour with a stick after refusing to leave the victim's driveway during a New Year's Day confrontation in Cranbrook.

Vincent Rayner lashed out at Paul Needs with the two-foot-long wooden implement which had a heavy wooden ball at the end of it, a court heard.

Mr Needs had ordered Rayner off his property after he went onto the driveway between his two cars and refused to leave.

Needs's partner, Michelle Gibbons, had already asked Rayner to leave several times and he had failed to move away. He lunged at Mr Needs, who pushed him over, and he then lashed out with the stick as he got up.

He struck at least one blow which caused a minor cut to the chin and a bruise to the chest, Exeter Crown Court was told at an appeal hearing on Friday, June 28.

An off-duty police officer, who lived opposite, intervened and Rayner was arrested. Police said he smelled of alcohol and they thought he had been drunk.

Former tank regiment soldier Rayner, aged 57, claimed he was the victim of the attack.

He told the court he was trying to re-deliver a wrongly addressed letter which had arrived at his house that morning. He was looking for the right house when he was approached by Ms Gibbons.

He said she was aggressive, called him a paedophile, and told him to get out. He said Mr Needs then charged out of the house and assaulted him, pushing him all the way across the street and knocking him to the ground.

Recorder Mr Ignatius Hughes, QC, rejected the claim that he was the victim. He said the accounts given by Mr Needs and Ms Gibbons were coherent and truthful and they were entitled to use reasonable force to remove an intruder from their property.

Rayner, of Tillhouse Road, Cranbrook, denied common assault but was convicted by magistrates and his appeal to Exeter Crown Court was rejected.

He was jailed for 20 months, suspended for two years, ordered to pay £65 compensation and £50 costs. A restraining order which bans any contact with Mr Needs and Ms Gibbons was imposed.

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