A FAMILY feel their father’s death can be partly blamed on a metal bar attack at the hands of a neighbour six months before, a court heard.
Anthony McGregor, who was 54, suffered a deep wound when he was struck on the head with the weapon by Kerry Barker, 29, during a row last August.
His family say the attack left him so scared he had to move out of his Hetton home and the “massive effect” of what happened played a part in his untimely death, on February 2.
In a victim personal statement read at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday, his grieving daughter, Victoria Kingsbury, wrote: “The assault had a massive effect on my father’s life.
“My father passed away on February 2 due to problems with his heart. I believe the assault was a factor in his death.
“After the assault my father had to move out of the area because he was scared.
“This has had a huge effect on all the family and we are finding it hard to come to terms with.”
The court heard Barker had given birth to her third child just 12 days before she launched the attack, while she was “extremely tired and hormonal”.
In her basis of plea she said she believed Mr McGregor may have had a knife during the argument in the street where they both lived, and accepted she lashed out with the pole twice, which hit him once.
In his own victim statement made shortly after the attack, Mr McGregor said: “I no longer wish to live at my address anymore because it is on the same street as Kerry.
“I am shocked Kerry could hit me with a metal bar.”
Mr McGregor was hospitalised and needed staples to his injury. Barker, of Caroline Street, Hetton, who has previous convictions for violence, admitted unlawful wounding.
Judge Deborah Sherwin said: “There is no medical basis for thinking the assault upon him had anything to do with his death, but one can understand how his daughter believed it had something to do with it.
“She describes her father having to move from the area because he had been scared as a result of this.”
The judge sentenced Barker to two years’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with drug rehabilitation, supervision and programme requirements.
The judge said suspending the sentence to allow input from probation officials was the “constructive” way to try and keep Barker away from trouble in the future.
Katherine Dunn, defending, said Barker is willing to work with those who want to help her.
Miss Dunn said: “She wants help.”