Hanging basket pepper-sprayer faces jail

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AN attacker who pepper sprayed three roofers after accusing them of smashing his hanging baskets during the course of their work has been warned he is facing jail.

Wayne Sawyers “effed and blinded” at the dad and two sons, who were working on his neighbours’ house, before shouting for them to come and meet him on the forecourt of his home.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that once the men got outside his home in Wavendon Crescent, Sunderland, Sawyers pepper-sprayed John Thompson and his sons John Paul and Dale on May 24 2011.

Sawyers had denied using pepper spray and claimed he squirted an angina spray at the men in self-defence. But after a four-day trial jurors rejected his claims and he was found guilty of all charges.

Judge James Goss QC adjourned sentence until next month.

The judge warned Sawyers: “Please don’t think the fact I am adjourning for a pre-sentence report and granting you bail is any indication of what the sentence is going to be.

“In my mind uppermost, obviously, is prison for these offences.”

The court heard the victims had been re-felting the garage roof when a day earlier the 39-year-old had complained of asbestos blowing into his garden.

But John Snr told the court it had been nothing but a piece of cardboard.

It was the following day that Sawyers blamed the roofers for smashing the baskets and causing damage to his fence.

Dale Thompson told the court: “The next door neighbour came out shouting and effing and blinding and shouting for us to get out round the front where he would knock my head in.

“I got down off the ladder and went out the front. I was with my dad and brother.

“Wayne came up to me. I pushed him back. Then he fetched his hand round and sprayed my left eye. I could not work for weeks afterwards.

“I had to get steroids for my eye. I could not see at all.

Dad John told the court: “Our Dale was bent over. I did not know what the defendant was going to do next so I pushed him away. He sprayed me in the eye, on the side of the nose and in the mouth.”

John Paul Thompson, 31, who has worked in the trade for 16 years, told jurors the roofers would have been happy to repair any damage they may have accidentally caused during the course of their work.

The police and ambulance were called and the family were taken to the Sunderland Eye Infirmary.

Jurors were shown CCTV of the incident.

Sawyers had denied possessing a prohibited weapon and three charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. He was found guilty of all four charges.

Twitter: @Sunderlandecho