Nightmare neighbour hurled industrial strength cleaning fluid in man's eyes in row over 'rumours'

Sophie Yorke threw a 'corrosive' liquid at her neighbour
-Credit: (Image: West Yorkshire Police)

A nightmare neighbour threw brick cleaner at a man after a row they had while walking their dogs.

Sophie Yorke accused the man of "spreading rumours" about her and her family before throwing the corrosive substance at him. Leeds Crown Court heard on Tuesday knew of an argument between Yorke, 47, and his friend - another neighbour - but was "not involved".

The damage to the man's eyes was so severe he needed to undergo two surgeries.

Prosecutor Austin Newman told the court that on August 14, 2022, the man was out walking his dog when he came across Yorke, of Pontefract Road in Knottingley, walking hers.

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Mr Newman told the court: "As they approached one another outside her home, she began to be verbally abusive against him, accusing him of spreading rumours about herself and her husband. He recognised them and understood they were both involved in a long-standing argument with a friend of his who lived at the rear of their property. He couldn't understand the abuse directed his way as he maintains he was not involved and had not been spreading rumours about the defendant."

The court heard the man then took his dog home before returning to Yorke's house as he "wanted to discuss the reason for the allegations she was making". Mr Newman said when the man returned and knocked on her door, there was no answer, but he heard her shout "he's there" and saw Yorke, her husband and son across the road.

Mr Newman said: "As he then started to walk across the road, his attention became focused on the defendant's husband as he had then started to unwrap an item from a cloth which he believed to be a weapon. He approached and didn't see the defendant walk towards him and discharge the industrial strength brick cleaning fluid at him."

The court heard the fluid was "clearly marked as corrosive" and struck the man to the face, causing an "immediate painful, burning sensation."

Mr Newman said: "He had an immediate fear that the fluid was acid. He also then immediately found it difficult to catch his breath and breathe normally. Despite no doubt the effects being obvious to the defendant, she didn't go to the aid of the complainant."

The man was helped by a member of the public who took him to a friend's home and the emergency services were called. The court heard he was taken to Pinderfields Hospital for treatment before being referred to the ophthalmology team. He had to have bandage contact lenses applied and several varieties of eye drops before undergoing two surgeries.

It was said that in her police interview, Yorke claimed she "went to throw the bottle at him and the lid came off". Mr Newman said: "The prosecution say the lid was a screw-type cap and it is likely she would have had to deliberately remove the screw cap."

Yorke went on to indicate a guilty plea to causing grievous bodily harm with intent. She already had previous convictions on her record for offences including common assault, battery and harassment and in 2020 was made the subject of a suspended sentence order for assault occasioning actual bodily harm. Mr Newman said that order came to an end in June 2022 - just two months before the offence she fell to be sentenced for on Tuesday.

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Mitigating, Andrew Stranex told the court a pre-sentence report had been prepared for Yorke. He said: "The pre-sentence report refers to the complainant in this case as being the principle person of harm in respect of a further offence - both the complainant and the neighbour. But the point is that this is a defendant who is content to live within a very short distance of them both since this allegation and this offence and there has been no further offending.

"What the author of the report says is she shows an insight into the reasons for her behaviour and has shown genuine remorse for her actions and the harm she caused to the victim. She stated her actions were wrong and she must face punishment for that. She knows she is going to go to prison today for a very long time."

Yorke was jailed for four years by His Honour Judge Simon Batiste who told her: "You will serve two-thirds of that sentence before you will be released and you will be on licence for the remainder of that sentence. If there is any repetition of any violent offences the likelihood will be that the sentence will be very long indeed in the future. Do I make that clear?"

Yorke replied: "Yes."

She was also made the subject of a ten-year restraining order, prohibiting her from contacting the victim.