Barnoldswick man wins neighbour water spray appeal

Burnley Crown Court.
Burnley Crown Court.

A Barnoldswick man has spoken of his relief after clearing his name at an appeal court in Burnley.

Mr Alex Leaver, of Coates Lane, had originally been found guilty of battery by Pennine magistrates after it was alleged he deliberately sprayed his hosepipe at a neighbour, knocking her off her ladder as she trimmed a hedge which bordered their properties.

However, Recorder William T. Smith, sitting with two justices at Burnley Crown Court, ruled the appeal should be allowed.

Opposing the appeal, prosecutor Mrs Sarah Statham said the neighbour, Mrs Jilly Sandamas, had been using electric hedge trimmers at the time.

Mr Leaver said at the appeal he did not know Mrs Sandamas was in her garden. He said he had watered the hedge since planting it after a dividing wall between the properties had been removed.

“I’m no gardener,” he told the Bench, “So I watered it up and down, like rain.”

As an electrical engineer, he said he would not have sprayed water on the hedge had he known Mrs Sandamas was cutting it.

Mr Recorder Smith said the event had grown out of a dispute between Mrs Sandamas and Mrs Sandamas was hit by water she said was a “deluge”.

She threw the electric trimmers to one side and fell down the ladder into a flower bed but was not seriously hurt.

“It is clearly regrettable she was sprayed but I am quite satisfied the water was not aimed at her,” he said.

The initial charge was made after 26 criminal convictions were attached to his file in error by police before it was passed on to the Crown Prosecution Service who, he claims, used the incorrect information to make a decision to prosecute him.

Speaking after the appeal, Mr Leaver described the experience as very disturbing and said the legal process had cost the taxpayer at least £4,000.

Mr Leaver, who has no criminal convictions, is to ask the police to remove his DNA and fingerprints from police records.