Man ‘pepper-sprayed’ workers in row over hanging baskets, court told

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A MAN “pepper-sprayed” three roofers in a row over hanging baskets.

Wayne Sawyers “effed and blinded” at the dad and two sons who were all working on his neighbours’ house, accusing them of smashing his hanging baskets, a court has heard.

He then shouted them to come and meet him on the forecourt of his home where he allegedly ,pepper-sprayed John Thompson and his sons John Paul and Dale.

The incident is said to have taken place on May 24 2011 outside Sawyers’ home in Wavendon Crescent, Sunderland.

The court heard that the family 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 day after that Sawyers blamed the roofers for smashing the baskets, son Dale said in his evidence.

He added: “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. It was a burning sensation.”

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.”

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

Jurors were shown CCTV of the incident during yesterday’s court proceedings.

Prosecution barrister Caroline McGurk told the court: “The Crown allege that the defendant used a pepper spray to assault three members of the Thompson family.

“The issues in this case are whether he sprayed them with a pepper spray or an angina spray and whether he acted in self defence when he did so.”

She added: “Even after the Thompson family had started to move away from the defendant he continued to advance upon them.

“The Thompson family remained at the scene and called the police.”

When officers approached the front door of the defendant’s house he came outside and handed them an angina spray that he said he had used on the family, the court heard.

Caroline McGurk added: “A forensic scientist examined the clothing of the family. She found the active ingredient of pepper spray on their


“She found the angina spray did not contain the active ingredient of pepper spray.”

“When the defendant was interviewed he maintained he had used an angina spray and he claimed he had acted in self defence.”

Sawyers has pleaded not guilty to possessing a prohibited weapon and three counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The trial continues.