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Margaret Bills found guilty of assaulting neighbour Barry Heudebourck

By David Gazet

A 74-year-old has been convicted of assaulting her neighbour of four years with a baseball bat after a row over a severed head.

Margaret Bills, of St George’s Avenue, Sheerness, struck Barry Heudebourck on the arm and shoulder after he came on to her driveway.

He said he was attempting to fix a damaged fence panel when the defendant, with whom he has a long and troubled history, approached him from behind shouting and swearing, then swinging at him while schoolchildren looked on.

A skull Margaret Bills claims one of her neighbour's put up
A skull Margaret Bills claims one of her neighbour's put up

Bills, who has no previous convictions, gave a different version of events.

The retired nurse told the court she hit the victim but claimed she had done so in self-defence after Mr Heudebourck shuffled towards her front door like a penguin and refused to leave, all the while laughing hysterically, shaking his fist at her and shouting: “You’ll get this you bitch.”

Appearing before Sevenoaks magistrates, she told the court she left him at the front door and went to find something to hit him with, before picking up her grandchildren’s baseball bat.

Robin Murray, defending, said the incident was the latest in a long line of disputes which had seen both neighbours call the police.

Margaret Bills
Margaret Bills

He said in the weeks before Mr Heudebourck, 68, had put up “horrifying effigies” of a severed head and a skull near the property boundary which terrified the defendant and her grandchildren.

Mr Heudebourck said these were Halloween decorations, then that they were intended to scare off birds.

David Holman, prosecuting, said Bills had changed her account – initially claiming to an investigating officer there were no other witnesses at the time of the attack.

She also said she had closed her front door during the incident, while later claiming she was prevented from doing so by Mr Heudebourck’s presence on the doorstep.

A fake impaled head
A fake impaled head

Mr Heudebourck said he had a bruised shoulder and swollen forearm after the attack, and that what had happened had made him nervous about going in his own garden.

Alan Knight, chairman of the bench, found Bills guilty of assault by beating.

He adjourned the case for sentencing at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court on Monday, October 23. Bills was granted unconditional bail.

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