AN attacker who peppersprayed three roofers after accusing them of smashing his hanging baskets during the course of their work has been jailed for 15 months.
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, in Wavendon Crescent, Sunderland.
Newcastle Crown Court heard that once the men got outside his home, Sawyers pepper-sprayed John Thompson and his sons John Paul and Dale.
Sawyers, 39, had denied using pepper spray and claimed he squirted an angina spray at the men in self defence during the incident on May 24, 2011.
But after a four-day trial, jurors rejected his claims and he was found guilty of all charges. Judge James Goss QC told him: “This was a serious offence. You deliberately armed yourself with a weapon which you then used deliberately into the faces of your three victims.”
Andrew Finlay, defending, said Sawyers had acted out of character that day and added: “What occurred seems to have been triggered by what happened when he was of the view some asbestos had been put into his mother’s garden.
“It was a deep-seated instinct to protect his family and property.”
The court heard that the victims had been refelting 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 how Sawyers threatened to “knock my head in”.
He said: “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.”
All three builders were taken to Sunderland Eye Infirmary.
Jurors were shown CCTV of the attack during the trial.
Sawyers had denied possessing a prohibited weapon and three charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, but he was found guilty of all four charges.