A “neighbour from hell” was caught on camera shunting a disabled pensioner out of a parking space with his car.
It was an assault which put David Cox back in court, having already previously been convicted for battering Michael Hayes in the street, breaking the then 73-year-old’s glasses and denture and bursting his lip.
The 63-year-old had been due to stand trial this week at Wigan Magistrates’ Court, but changed his plea at the 11th hour to a charge of assault by beating. He was also in breach of a restraining order at the time of the incident last May.
Today his victim said he and his wife Margaret were “living a nightmare” and hoped that the two-year conditional discharge and new 12-month restraining order would put an end to their torment.
The couple and Cox had been friends in Cansfield Grove, Ashton, for several years before the latter took against the Hayes’ repeatedly complaining about late-night party noise coming from his daughter’s house which adjoined theirs. The issue eventually involved council environmental health officers.
The first assault of Mr Hayes took place in December 2016 when he accused Cox of deliberately opening the throttle on an old Vauxhall Vectra Estate of a car he owned to discharge filthy fumes over the newly laid chippings on his drive, blackening them.
As former car mechanic Mr Hayes was hosing the drive down, Cox returned in the car and revved it up again, covering his victim in choking smoke. Mr Hayes started hosing again at which point his CCTV caught Cox coming over and punching him in the chest and face as Margaret vainly tried to prevent the attack.
Mr Hayes, now 74, said that Cox knew well that he has a heart condition and an eye aneurysm when he was raining down blows.
After Cox was charged, a window at the Hayes’ home was put through, the court heard, but it could not be proved who did it. On the advice of police, Mr
Hayes installed more CCTV which prompted one Cox family member to go on social member to claim he was a paedophile and it was to spy at children walking to the local school.
In fact the new camera was a dummy, although it has since been replaced with a state-of-the-art system with the full approval of the school and other neighbours, says Mr Hayes.
More recently disputes have centred on a parking bay that Wigan Council painted on the road outside the Hayes’ house for disabled Margaret’s benefit which they say Cox, and other family members, have deliberately and repeatedly parked in because they say it isn’t the Hayes to use.
This was the context for when Mr Hayes was driven at last May. He said: “My daughter was arriving to pick Margaret up and her view was blocked by a van so I stood in the bay to guide her in.
“Just then Cox arrived in his two-litre Saab Automatic and tried to get into the bay. I stood my ground because it looked like he was going to try to fill the space like he often did, but he drove forward anyway pushing me backwards, causing bruising to my hand and leg.
"If he had knocked me over things could have been a lot worse. It was another of the horrible things we have had to put up with. Margaret has lived in this house all her life and I have been here 54 years but the last two have been hell.
“It gets to the point that we are frightened to go out for fear of what will happen next.
“We have had to up the security which is sad but has proved necessary.”
Mr Hayes said that there have been all manner of other disconcerting episodes, not least of Cox taking pictures of the couple’s house - one reason why they upgraded their camera system.
Cox is currently paying Mr Hayes £850 in compensation for the broken false teeth and spectacles at £5 a week.
Mr Hayes said he would like to thank a number of police officers for their “dedication and patience” during the investigation of the case.