Retired teacher from Glaisdale, near Whitby, given suspended jail sentence after pushing elderly neighbour to ground

A 77-year-old retired teacher attacked his elderly neighbour in a fierce boundary dispute in Glaisdale, pushing her with such force she hit the ground and broke her wrist.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 10:07 am

Lewis Maxwell Graham flew into a rage when he saw his named female neighbour raking leaves on his driveway after she had been trimming her trees, York Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Brooke Morrison said the 76-year-old widow suffered a fractured wrist and pain to her back and arm.

Mr Graham, who initially tried to help the victim after seeing her writhing in agony, went back inside his property as another neighbour called an ambulance.

York Crown Court.

The badly injured woman was taken to hospital where she underwent surgery for the broken wrist and is still suffering from the physical effects which had severely curtailed her lifestyle.

Ms Morrison said the scenes were the culmination of a running boundary dispute between the two neighbours.

It was about 10.30am on December 1 last year when tensions came to the boil after the victim had been trimming her trees next to the boundary wall with the help of another

neighbour.

Some of the leaves fell onto Graham’s driveway.

The victim started raking up leaves on his drive, whereupon Graham stormed out of his house and remonstrated with her, claiming she was damaging his wall.

“He shouted at her to get off his land,” said Ms Morrison.

She told him she was just clearing up the leaves, at which point Graham “pushed her with both hands, hard, to the shoulder”.

She fell backwards and suffered excruciating pain to her back and wrist.

Ms Morrison said the injuries had had an “irreversible” effect on the pensioner’s life and she was still on medication and painkillers despite having surgery and physiotherapy.

Graham appeared for sentence on yesterday (July 20) fter he admitted wounding or causing grievous bodily harm to his neighbour.

The court heard that the neighbours had lived in Nab End Lane for more than 20 years, but the boundary disputes only occurred relatively recently.

Ms Morrison said the victim claimed to have deed rights to go onto her neighbour’s land if she needed to.

The victim said she was now “unable to do the simplest of tasks” due to her injuries and her ongoing physical condition had “taken my independence away”.

She suffered flashbacks and was unable to cook or send emails, which had increased her isolation.

She had led a “very active” life before the attack but since then she had to rely on her other, “kind” neighbours to take her to “numerous” hospital appointments.

She claimed that Graham was “always in the garden trying to aggravate me” and that he had built a “long wall” next to her boundary wall using the same type of Yorkshire stone.

Graham Parkin, for Graham, said the former teacher had had no contact with his neighbour since the incident and he was apologetic.

Judge Simon Hickey told Graham: “I would have thought that at your age you would be able to sort things out amicably.

"It should have been dealt with in a Christian and civil way.

"(The victim) is now suffering continuously because of the pain.”

He told Graham that he could have killed her after she fell to the ground backwards with great force.

It had had a “marked effect upon this lady’s life and no doubt has soured the waters even more”, added the judge.

Mr Hickey said the offence was so serious that it had passed the custody threshold, but that he could suspend the sentence because of Graham’s age, his “impressive” character references following a long teaching career and the fact that it was a single push.

The eight-month prison sentence was suspended for a year but Graham was also given a two-month curfew which prohibits him leaving his home between 10am and 5pm daily.

In addition, he was ordered to pay his neighbour £500 compensation and £200 prosecution costs.