'Handbags in the cul-de-sac': Judge accuses neighbours of 'acting like immature teenagers' in boundary row

Telegraph Reporters
Peter and Sally Lane - TomWren/BNPS

A judge accused warring neighbours of having "handbags in the cul-de-sac" after an 81-year-old man attacked a man living next door with a rounders bat.

Pensioner Peter Lane and Garry Prince came to blows outside their bungalow homes in a scuffle that was the culmination of a nine-year boundary dispute over a concrete pillar, a court heard.

The row happened after a joint restraining order requiring both men to keep the peace expired. The order was issued following a legal row over who owned a 4ft pillar that stands between their driveways.

A court heard Mr Lane was provoked into confronting his 57-year-old neighbour after he made an insulting remark about his wife.

It is not very nice for neighbours to look at two grown men fighting, it's frightening to witness violence

Judge Jonathan Fuller QC

Mr Prince challenged the pensioner to "sort things out there and then", prompting him to go to the boot of his car and get the rounders bat he used for family games.

He hit Mr Prince on the back of the legs with it and then across the forearm, causing the bat to break, the court was told.

Mr Prince was said to have been unhurt in the exchange and could be heard laughing in CCTV footage taken from a neighbouring home.

Upon seeing the CCTV, Judge Jonathan Fuller QC said both men had acted like a "couple of immature teenagers" and urged them to come to their senses.

He handed retired plumber Mr Lane a conditional discharge after he pleaded guilty to possession of an offensive weapon and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

A court heard the Lanes had lived in Poole, Dorset, for more than 40 years. After Mr Prince moved in next door in 2007, he claimed the pillar between their £265,000 properties was on his land and he wanted it removed to make it easier to park his car.

The dispute ended up going to civil court with a judge ruling the boundary line meant the pillar was on the Lanes' land.

Mr Prince was ordered to replace the boundary posts he had removed and pay £6,500 in damages. Bournemouth Crown Court heard the fracas happened on May 3 last year.

The CCTV shows Mr Lane talking to a neighbour when Mr Prince approaches him. The footage picks up a remark he makes and him inviting Mr Lane to a fight.

Garry Prince at Bournemouth Crown Court Credit: Corin Messer/BNPS

Rob Welling, prosecuting, said: "Mr Lane plainly loses his temper, goes to his car and takes out a rounders bat and while Mr Prince's back is turned he strikes him across the back of the legs."

The footage shows Mr Prince turn to face his neighbour and Mr Lane goes to hit him a second time. Mr Prince puts up his arm and the bat hits his forearm, breaking the bat. Mr Prince can then be heard laughing.

Mr Welling said when he was interviewed by police, Mr Lane's account matched what was on the CCTV while Mr Prince's did not in terms of the verbal comments he made.

Tom Wilkins, defending, said: "Mr Prince didn't flinch after the blow and was laughing within moments. The injuries were not serious.

"The weapon was not offensive, it had a legitimate use for family games, which is why it was in the car in the first place."

Mr Prince was in court to hear Judge Fuller lambast both men for their "disgraceful" behaviour.

He told Mr Lane: "You lost it in response to Mr Prince's offer to 'sort things out there and then'. You took the bait. There are handbags in the cul-de-sac which spill out onto the street.

"What makes this all the sadder is you're not a couple of immature teenagers, you're 81 years of age and Mr Prince is also a mature man.

"For two men like you to behave in that way is disgraceful. It is not very nice for neighbours to look at two grown men fighting, it's frightening to witness violence.

"One of the frustrations I have is I cannot impose an order which would ensure both of you come to your senses because you are not before me together.

"All you have to do is look to yourselves to see if you want a peaceful life in your addresses or whether you are going to invite trouble. If you invite trouble you will both be before the courts again."

Mr Lane was ordered to pay court costs of £250. Mr Prince was also charged in relation to the incident and he previously pleaded guilty to using threatening words or behaviour at Bournemouth Magistrates' Court and was given a 12-month conditional discharge.

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