Chesterfield pensioner headbutts neighbour as row over wood chippings boils over on private road

A Chesterfield pensioner headbutted a neighbour who challenged him for using wood chippings to fill in a pothole on the swanky private road where they lived, a court heard.

By Ben McVay
Thursday, 9th December 2021, 2:19 pm

Graham Craven, 69, attacked the fellow resident in the rural hamlet of Overton – with an average house price of £535,000 on Rightmove property website – when a “heated argument” broke out as “questions” were raised about the wood chippings.

Chesterfield Magistrates Court heard after delivering the headbutt - causing a “nasty cut” to his startled victim’s forehead Craven grabbed him by the throat twice.

Prosecutor Bethany Leigh told the court how the violent dispute - on May 30 - broke out as Craven’s neighbour was doing maintenance work on the country track.

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The violent row erupted in the upper-class rural hamlet of Overton – with an average house price of £535,000 on Rightmove property website

She said: “The defendant and the victim are neighbours - they all live along a private road and along that road local residents do maintenance.

“The victim was doing some work on the road filling in holes and one of them had already been filled in with wood chippings - that had been done by the defendant.

“There were questions about why there were wood chippings in there.”

The court heard Craven then headbutted his neighbour as the row boiled over.

Ms Leigh said: “The defendant headbutted the victim, causing a nasty cut to his forehead – he grabbed his throat for five to six seconds and pushed him to the floor.

“As (the victim) stood up again the defendant grabbed him around the throat for the second time.”

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Craven’s solicitor David Gittins described his client as a man of good character who had previously worked in a “high position” for a firm in middle east countries such as Kuwait, Iran and Syria.

The father-of-two had also worked building charity shelters in India and after retirement was an invigilator at a local school - which Mr Gittins did not name.

Mr Gittins said: “Mr Craven cannot believe he is before the court at 69 years of age over an argument about potholes.

“There were a number of residents sorting out potholes because they have to under the obligations where they live.

“They are neighbourly, they take in parcels for each other, they wave at each other as they go down the road.”

He added: “If these were toddlers it would perhaps make more sense as to how it’s got from neighbours trying to do the right thing together to a man being in court today.

Mr Gittins said Craven was “thoroughly embarrassed” by his behaviour and “ashamed” by what happened.

District Judge Jonathan Taaffe, handing Craven an eight-week curfew, said: “I accept that you are a gentleman of previous good character with an outstanding work record and an outstanding citizen.

“It’s extremely sad that at the age of 69 a momentary loss of temper has placed you in a position where you lose your good character.

“The fact is on this occasion your head was used as a weapon and a headbutt was inflicted that could have had devastating consequences.”

Craven, of Coach Road, Ashover, admitted assault with actual bodily harm.

He was also ordered to pay £500 compensation to his victim, £85 court costs and a £95 victim surcharge.

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