Published: 11:20, 13 September 2018
| Updated: 11:21, 13 September 2018
A father accused with his daughter of fracturing their next-door neighbour's eye socket in revenge for him killing their pet dog sobbed as he told a jury the animal was 'treated like a baby' by his family.
The English bull terrier called Dave had been living with Matthew Oram, his wife Vicky and their two children since 2012 after they rehomed him from a dog rescue group.
Oram cried as he explained the fact the animal had the same name as his then recently-deceased father was considered 'a sign' that he should join their family, which included another bull terrier called Lola.
He said they were all dog lovers and treated Dave like a baby at their home in Gillingham.
But a jury heard on March 15 last year the 10-year-old dog was killed by neighbour Adam Ashurst after it escaped from the garden in Castlemaine Avenue and into his adjacent terraced house.
Having reportedly started to attack his family's toy poodle in the living room, the 30-year-old grabbed one of two Samurai swords in his bedroom, ran downstairs and struck Dave.
The single blow from the ornamental katana effectively 'cut him in two', Maidstone Crown Court was told.
Oram, a domestic and industrial painter and decorator, was driving to Birmingham for work when his daughter phoned him to say she had banged on the door when she realised Dave had escaped but Mr Ashurst would not let her in.
Having told her to call the police, Oram turned his car around and headed back to Gillingham.
But Dave, who suffered a large gash to his body, was dead by the time the 46-year-old reached home.
Crying as he gave evidence, Oram said he was left feeling numb by his dog's death: "There was just devastation and silence, just blown away that this happened. Everyone was upset. I was numb."
The court heard Mr Ashurst was arrested and interviewed but police decided not to press charges.
Oram agreed he felt 'annoyed and frustrated' by the decision and believed his neighbour had 'got away' with killing their pet.
But he denied embarking on a campaign of harassment within hours of Mr Ashurst's release from custody, and which culminated in the 'brutal' street attack on July 15 last year - four months to the day that Dave had been killed.
Oram admitted he drove after Mr Ashurst to 'give him a slap', and then 'lost control' of his emotions.
But he told the jury he did not intend to cause the serious injury that his neighbour suffered and for which he later needed surgery.
Oram also maintained that his daughter Jade, who was then 19 and had accompanied him, did not join in the attack or know what he intended to do.
He told the court: "I shoved him, then I punched him a few times. He dived on the floor and I kicked him on his back. Then I was over the top of him, punching him with both hands.
"When I stopped, Jade was standing right next to me and I realised what I had done. I stepped over him and to one side. He got up and that's when we left."
He added that his daughter looked to be in 'absolute shock'. He denied kicking or stamping on Mr Ashurst's face and head.
Asked in cross-examination by prosecutor Tony Prosser whether he was 'furious' with his neighbour at the thought he had killed his dog, Oram replied: "There was nothing going through my mind. There just wasn't."
The court heard the alleged harassment included stones being thrown at Mr Ashurst's bedroom window, verbal and physical threats, spraying water from a hosepipe into their property, smashing a front window with a brick and cutting a telecommunications cable.
Mr Ashurst, who lived with his mother and 84-year-old grandmother, was said to have been so scared that he installed cameras to film what was happening.
One clip showed Oram repeatedly banging on Mr Ashurst's bedroom window, having climbed up via an extension roof, the morning after the bull terrier had been killed.
But he told the court he felt 'unsafe and uncomfortable' that his family's privacy was being invaded and had reported his concerns to police.
He said he blacked out one window on his neighbour's house with the paint roller because the camera was directed into his son's bedroom.
He also admitted throwing stones at Mr Ashurst's bedroom window within hours of his dog's death.
"He had another samurai sword in the window. I could see it from my garden. I was thinking 'Is he going to kill my other dog?' - Matthew Oram
But although he accepted his behaviour appeared 'menacing', Oram told the jury he simply wanted him to get rid of his second sword, and explain why he had killed their dog.
"He had another samurai sword in the window. I could see it from my garden. I was thinking 'Is he going to kill my other dog?'," he told the jury.
"I wanted to ask him to get rid of it, why he had another sword, and why he had done what he had done to Dave."
Oram denies inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, as well as an offence of putting Mr Ashurst in fear of violence by harassment.
He has pleaded guilty to the less serious offence of inflicting grievous bodily harm.
Jade Oram, now 20, is alleged by the prosecution to have played a 'participating and supporting' role in the attack on Mr Ashurst.
She denies both charges of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent, and causing grievous bodily harm.
Jade also denied the same harassment offence and was formally cleared by the jury on the direction of Judge Philip St.John-Stevens after he heard legal arguments.
The trial continues.
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