Thursday, 14 July 2016



Former banker attacked neighbour with pick axe handle following row over hedge

Former banker attacks neighbour with pick axe over hedge feudPlay!01:43

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Aformer banking executive attacked his neighbour with a pick-axe handle following a simmering feud over a privet hedge, a court has heard.
Christopher Secker, 44, had been locked in a bitter dispute with Ann Caster, 57, over whether they should trim the foliage between their properties or let it grow.
But the argument exploded into violence in November last year when the pair had a further row over Secker’s puppy that had wandered into Mrs Caster’s garden.

Privet hedge
Secker and Ann Castor clashed over the privet hedge between their home
Teesside Crown Court heard how he accused her of trying to steal the 10-month old West Highland Terrier and marched onto her property carrying a four-foot axe shaft.
In a shocking attack captured on a neighbour's CCTV, Secker struck Mrs Caster on the temple with the axe handle before trying to tear the dog from her grasp.
He then swept her legs from under her and beat her until she blacked out.
Mrs Caster’s screams alerted two of her sisters who live in the same street and they came rushing out to help.
Geraldine Morley, 58, and Christine Tranter, 53, both attempted to restrain Secker as their sister lay on the ground in the smart suburban estate in Eston, near Middlesbrough.

Christopher Secker
'Astonishing behaviour': Christopher Secker narrowly avoided a prison sentence
In the melee that resulted Mrs Morley was also assaulted by Secker, who was later arrested and charged with assault.
The court heard how Secker had a successful career as a banker for Barclays and the Bank of Scotland, but had been made redundant.
After suffering depression he had put money into the dog minding franchise Petpals and had been looking after a puppy when it wandered into Mrs Caster’s garden, sparking the violent outburst.
We originally fell out over the privet hedge...he did childish things like throwing branches onto my roof and threatening me with solicitors but I never imagined he was capable of such violenceAnn Castor
The court heard there had been a dispute about the privet hedge between the gardens of Secker and Mrs Caster.
On November 27 last year, things came to a head when Mrs Caster found the terrier, called the telephone number on the dog's collar tag and the owner arranged to collect it, said Penny Bottomley, prosecuting.

Christopher Secker
Christopher Secker
But soon after, Secker turned up with a four-foot lump of wood, demanded the pet, grabbed the lead it was on, lifted it off the ground and swung it around.
He called her "a stupid cow" then struck his neighbour to the left temple with the axe handle, and punched her in the body until she fell to the ground.
The film footage showed Secker leaning over the woman and thumping her again, but she screamed for help and her sister, Geraldine Morley came to her aid.

Ann Castor and her two sisters
Mrs Castor and her two sisters were attacked during the incident
Judge James Brown described his assault as “an astonishing piece of behaviour from someone who is 44”, adding that he had only just narrowly avoided going to jail.
He was given a suspended sentence, 180 hours of unpaid work and a restraining order.
Kelleigh Lodge, mitigating, said: “This is the first time he has appeared before a court for any proceedings. It is genuinely out of character for him.
This is the first time he has appeared before a court for any proceedings. It is genuinely out of character for himKelleigh Lodge, barrister for Secker
“The dog he had been looking after had been taken from his garden, and when he found out where it was, his main concern was to retrieve it as quickly as possible.”
The court heard that Secker had now lost his Petpals franchise.
After the case Mrs Caster said: “We originally fell out over the privet hedge because he liked it to go grow tall and I would cut it so that it looked neat and tidy.
“He did childish things like throwing branches onto my roof and threatening me with solicitors but I never imagined he was capable of such violence.”
She added: “This is a nice street where people look after their homes and look out for their neighbours, but his actions were outrageous and I think he deserved to go to prison for what he did to me and also for traumatising the poor little dog. This has had a lasting effect on all of us.”