Portsmouth pensioner wearing fake beard launches attack on neighbour

Tipton House in Somers Town
Tipton House in Somers Town
Copnor Takeaway in Copnor Road after the incident

Man found not guilty after meat cleaver incident at Portsmouth takeaway

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A RAMPAGING pensioner wearing a false beard and armed with a hammer threatened to kill his neighbour after a noise complaint row escalated.

John Sherwood launched a sustained attack on the home of Salam Mekonnen-Desta, who lives above him in Tipton House, in Warwick Crescent, Somers Town, on September 11.

Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard that the 72-year-old had been drinking when he armed himself with a lump hammer and wore a false beard as he started his assault.

He made his way upstairs, screaming and shouting, threatening to kill his terrified neighbour before repeatedly smashing the door with the hammer.

Photos shown in court showed the wooden door scarred with several large holes from the pensioner’s blows.

Prosecutor Nick Hoyle said that when police arrived at the property they found the 72-year-old near the flat, his false beard thrown on the floor and a hammer nearby.

He was then arrested and taken into custody, where he refused to answer any questions during police interview, Mr Hoyle told the court.

The prosecutor said Sherwood had warned his terrified neighbours they would ‘die’, adding: ‘The incident dealt with was exceedingly scary for those inside.’

Defending, Lisa Garcia told the court that Sherwood’s anger stemmed from a noise row with his neighbours.

She said the pensioner had lived in Tipton House for several years and that his neighbours had only recently moved in.

She said Sherwood had made a number of complaints to Portsmouth City Council, claiming there was ‘banging’ and ‘loud noises’ coming from the flat above him.

She added: ‘This is essentially a neighbour dispute in terms of noise disturbance that has gone to the extreme.

‘He (Sherwood) hasn’t dealt with the situation particularly well which was rather unpleasant for the victims inside.’

Probation officer Lyn West said Sherwood was ‘ashamed’ of his actions, which she said were borne from the frustration of his neighbourhood dispute.

She added the pensioner’s partner of 15 years was in a residential home with severe dementia and that this, combined with the noise disturbance and alcohol consumption, had caused him to lose his temper. She said: ‘This was just a moment of madness.

‘He does feel sorry for that and has shown appropriate remorse.’

Mrs Garcia added: ‘It’s quite easy to be sometimes a little dismissive of neighbourhood disputes and noise disturbances.

‘But I hope that one can understand how it can drive somebody to despair.

‘These are extreme circumstances and drove Sherwood to take action in an extreme way.’

Sherwood pleaded guilty to one count of criminal damage and using threatening/abusive/insulting behaviour with intent to cause fear of/provoke unlawful violence.

He was ordered to pay £551.59 in compensation, £85 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.

He was also given a six-month community order and told to serve 15 days of rehabilitation.