Army veteran brandished axe in New Year’s Eve bust-up with next-door neighbour

NEWS from Nottingham Magistrates' Court.

NEWS from Nottingham Magistrates' Court.

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An Army veteran, who was “blown up in Iraq”, was involved in a New Year’s Eve rumpus, brandishing an axe, a court heard.

Neil Jones, who served in the forces for 24 years, clashed with his next-door neighbour at Calverton Working Men’s Club in a long-running dispute about a boundary fence.

After being thrown out, Jones smashed a window at the Collyer Road club and later returned with the axe, threatening to kill the neighbour.

Jones, 49, of Mansfield Lane, Calverton, pleaded guilty at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court to charges of having an offensive weapon and damaging the window on Thursday, December 31 last year.

The court heard the offence was “very out of character” for Jones, whose Army career came to an end after he was “blown up in Iraq” in 2010 and was “discharged due to chronic health problems”.

But he was sentenced to six weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for one year, and ordered to pay compensation of £100 to the club and court costs of £85.

Tracey Ross, prosecuting, told the court that the relief manager of the social club was made aware of an altercation between the two men.

“It was clear that one of them was out to enjoy a drink, but Mr Jones wouldn’t leave the matter or calm down, and so he was escorted out,” said Miss Ross.

“At 11.45 pm, he tried to get back in, but was refused admission by a doorman. He was very agitated and out of control, and his partner tried to pull him away.

“He punched the window with his right fist before going home. But just after midnight, he returned and was noticed hiding an axe behind his back. It was 12 inches long with a three or four-inch blade.

“The relief manager heard him say: I am going to kill him! Only when he became convinced that the neighbour had gone did he leave.”

The court heard that when interviewed by police, Jones denied making the threats to kill or being drunk, but “wasn’t happy at being ejected from the club” and felt he had been provoked by the neighbour.

He said he had planted conifers along the boundary of the two men’s properties, and the neighbour had threatened to chop them down.

“The reason he had the axe was to give it to his neighbour and to say: get on with it then,” said Nicola Gray, mitigating.

“He had tried to deal with the dispute civilly and had tried to resolve it. But the neighbour went over to him in the club and instigated the argument.

“Things got heated and the neighbour poked his partner in the chest, causing him distress because she had been diagnosed with cancer. The neighbour then tried to assault him too. He accepts he was very emotional.”