Man brutally attacked confused gas engineer shouting ‘where is she?’

Station Avenue North.
Station Avenue North.

A gas engineer was was repeatedly punched by a stranger shouting ‘where is she’ as he was carrying out work on a house.

John Greenhow, 36, burst into an upstairs bedroom of a home and struck Dale Kirkwood three times in the face, Sunderland magistrates heard.

He said he does a lot of work in Hull, which is a very rough area and this has never occurred there

Lesley Burgess, prosecuting

Mr Kirkwood, from Hull, had never seen Greenhow before and was at a loss when he demanded ‘where is she?’

Prosecutor Lesley Burgess said: “The victim of the assault is Dale Kirkwood, who is employed as a gas engineer.

“He was in an upstairs bedroom, when a male described as 30 to 40 years old and about 6ft-tall, all of a sudden burst into the room and repeatedly shouted ‘where is she?’, to which Mr Kirkwood stated he did not know, he had never met him before and didn’t know who he was.

“He’s then punched him with his right fist to the left hand side of his face, which caused him to stoop down.

“Mr Kirkwood placed his hands in front of his face to protect himself.

“He is asked again ‘where is she?’ before he is punched behind the ear.

“In total he is punched three times in the face.

“He runs outside, turns left and he approaches a car park opposite a dental surgery.

“A female member of staff takes him upstairs and tells him to sit down.

“Shortly after, the same male walks into the dental surgery shouting.

“Mr Kirkwood is upstairs but he could still hear the male downstairs shouting at staff for 20 minutes before he left.”

Ms Burgess added: “Witness Laura Fletcher is a dental nurse. She is aware of the defendant because he is her ex-partner.”

Greenhow was arrested soon after when he was seen driving a Landrover in Brinkburn Crescent, without valid insurance or driving licence.

Greenhow, of Sherburn Grove, Burnside Estate, Houghton, denied assault, driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence and without insurance, but was found guilty after a trial.

Mr Kirkwood said in a statement read out in court: “I’m feeling very anxious and worried for my personal safety. I still get upset about this incident.”

He received a cut above the lip, and a lump inside his mouth and behind the ear, the court heard, as well as extensive bruising.

Ms Burgess referred to her notes from the trial, saying: “He stated he wasn’t expecting this to be part of his job for a random customer.

“He said he does a lot of work in Hull, which is a very rough area and this has never occurred there.

“He said he had to have a scan in hospital and took two days off.”

George Tilley, defending, said he was limited as to what he could say in mitigation, as Greenhow still denied the offence.

He added: “The evidence from the prosecution appears to suggest there were problems between Laura Fletcher and Mr Greenhow.

“At the time he was still seeing her. He was quite familiar with the surgery and would pick her up from work on regular occasions. They are still together now.”

Mr Tilley denied his client had a history of domestic violence and said his latest court appearance was in 2013, after he had taken his young daughter swimming while drunk.

“That was clearly a regrettable incident,” he added.

Greenhow was sentenced to an 18-month community order with 20 days’ specified activity. He was told to pay £300 costs, £150 compensation and £12 fine and £85 surcharge, and was given six points on his driving licence.