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St Mary's Bay trucker Andrew Dixon jailed for beating neighbour James Courtney with wheel brace in dispute over parking

20 March 2014
by Paul Hooper

A lorry driver has been jailed for three years after savagely beating up a pensioner in a bust-up over a parking space.

The victim told a judge how he now fears taking his dog for a walk after the attack by neighbour Andrew Dixon.

James Courtney, 69, also revealed the incident had left him "feeling like a prisoner in my own home".

Andrew Dixon, from St Mary's Bay, was jailed for three years

Andrew Dixon, from St Mary's Bay, was jailed for three years

He took the unusual decision to read to a judge his own victim impact statement about how his life has changed after the attack.

Dixon, 67, has been jailed for three years after a jury found him guilty of smashing a wheel brace over Mr Courtney's head last March and unlawfully wounding his victim.

Canterbury Crown Court had heard how the men were neighbours in Taylor Close, St Mary's Bay, when they fell out over how cars were parked as Mr Courtney was walking his dog.

The attack, which left the pensioner nursing a serious head wound which needed stitches, was in a row over the fact there is only room for one car in their corner of the close.

James Courtney was attacked by his neighbour

James Courtney was attacked by his neighbour

Prosecutor Iestyn Morgan told how the two men had fallen out previously over parking, which had involved the police being called.

He said: "Mr Courtney said that he was walking his dog along the street, walked past the open door of Dixon's car and shut it as he went past, so he could get along the pavement.

"Mr Courtney said that Dixon reacted badly to that, got out of his car and threatened him, told him not to do that again and then Mr Courtney saw that his neighbour was carrying an extended chrome bar.

"Dixon then shouted: 'I've had enough of you'. And then Mr Courtney felt a strong impact on the back of his head. He felt pain and turned around and tried to protect himself."

Mr Courtney told the jury he was struck "at least another three times", leaving him nursing head injuries and needing eight stitches. Mr Courtney said he saw Dixon holding an extending wheel brace and hit him.

The home of James Courtney in Taylor Close, St Mary's Bay

The home of James Courtney in Taylor Close, St Mary's Bay

John O'Higgins, defending, said "hard-working" Dixon's sons were upstanding members of the community, one working at Canterbury Cathedral and a second a police officer.

"This was a momentary loss of control and done in the spur of the moment in the context of a long-running dispute and he is not solely to blame," he said. "He is very remorseful and sorry that violence should have occurred."

Mr O'Higgins said the former Scout volunteer has gone from "a very respected member of the community so this has been a chastening and bitter experience".

The barrister said the family were also now considering leaving a area that they had always wanted to live.

Wheel brace attacker Andrew Dixon's home in St Mary's Bay

Wheel brace attacker Andrew Dixon's home in St Mary's Bay

Judge Adele Williams told him: "It is a tragedy that you should have committed this offence.

"Until this incident you have a led an honest, industrious and proper life but on this occasion you became incensed and completely lost your temper and repeatedly attacked your victim with a wheel brace."

Usually the victim impact statement is either handed to the judge or read out by the prosecutor, but Mr Courtney asked to go into the witness box and read his own account.

He told the judge: "Since the incident occurred I have found myself a prisoner in my own home. I am afraid of meeting him (Dixon) and what would happen if our vehicles were to meet and consequently who would give way."

Victim James Courtney outside his home

Victim James Courtney outside his home

Mr Courtney said he also feared taking his pet dog for a walk, "something which brought me solace and peace but now I am worried I maybe attacked again".

He added: "I can no longer keep the dog because I am too scared to walk her. Since this has happened my health has deteriorated.

"I am 69 years old and having a lot of medical problems and I don’t need this extra anxiety and being uncomfortable in my own street."

He added he kept details of the attack from his wife, Brenda because he didn't want her to panic and played down the injuries when he went to hospital.

"I just said that I had had an accident and was going to hospital in an ambulance. I didn't want to leave her alone but I knew I needed care. I was covered in blood but I didn't know how much blood I had lost."

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