A man has denied pinning down and beating an elderly woman in a row over a fence and an ivy bush – claiming she suffered the injuries by tripping over a dog and falling into a plant pot.
Brian Saunders, 52, allegedly attacked his parents’ neighbour, Wendy Douglas, then 68, leaving her with a fractured eye socket, broken collar bone and broken ribs in June 2021, Newcastle Crown Court heard.
Saunders claimed she suffered the injuries after tripping over a pet trying to get up from a sun lounger, before falling into a plant pot and suffering what appeared to be a fit. The defendant says he rushed to help her.
Ms Douglas told the court that there was an ongoing dispute with Saunders’ parents in Ascot Road, Kingston Park, Newcastle upon Tyne – an ivy bush belonging to his parents had wrapped itself around her fence, causing it lean into their property.
Saunders’ father then attacked the fence, the court heard, leaving Ms Douglas no choice but to remove it, and she refused to replace the fence until the ivy bush was brought under control.
Brian Saunders, 52, who allegedly attacked his parents’ neighbour Wendy Douglas, then 68, fracturing her eye socket and breaking her collar bone and ribs on June 12, 2021
The incident took place at an address in Ascot Road, Kingston Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
On June 12, 2021, events came to a head at around noon when Ms Douglas started trimming a bush she claims was in her garden.
She told the court Saunders’ father came out and began shouting at her before going back to his property, he then returned and demanded the cuttings from the plant.
Ms Douglas said: ‘He went back into the house and said, “You will regret this”. I didn’t pay any attention and thought it was an empty threat.
‘I sat on the sun lounger to read my book. He went inside and slammed the door. About 20 minutes later or so I heard a car coming in.
‘A few minutes later I heard a voice to my left and it was his son. I heard a voice saying, “I want a word with you” and when I looked up it was Brian. He repeated, “I want a word with you”. Again, I ignored him.’
She said there was an exchange of words about putting in a new fence before Saunders spotted a mobile phone in her hand.
She added: ‘He said, “You’re recording this conversation aren’t you?” That’s when he came through the gap and snatched the phone out of my hand.
‘He then proceeded to stamp on my phone. I was just looking in amazement, it all happened so fast I could not comprehend what was happening. I could not understand what was going on.
‘The next thing I know I was flying through the air and I was on the ground trying to fight him off me. I think it was a blow to the face.
‘The next thing I know I was on my back. He was more or less on top of me and I was trying to fight him off. He put his knee across my right shoulder and I couldn’t move. He had me pinned down.
‘He had his hand round my throat. I thought he was going to strangle me. He was shaking my head by the neck as he screamed, “You will get it sorted”.
‘I went into an out-of-body experience. I thought, “Wendy, scream as loud as you can” – I thought someone might come to help me or come to my aid.
‘I was screaming at the top of my lungs, I hoped someone would hear. I thought, “Am I going to get out of this?” I will never forget what happened. You never forget anything like that.’
The court heard that she was taken to hospital by police, where medics found that she had a fractured eye socket, broken collar bone and broken ribs. She also later had a haemorrhage in her eye.
Saunders is also accused of stealing Ms Douglas’s mobile phone during the incident.
Saunders, of Melness Road, Hazlerigg, Newcastle upon Tyne, pleaded not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent, causing grievous bodily harm and theft.
The trial continues.