A man has been jailed for two years after two groups of gardeners clashed in a quiet residential street.
A feud over an affair sparked what a court heard was a serious outbreak of violence between the two firms in Riversway, Poulton.
One man was knocked unconscious and also suffered fractures to his cheekbones and lower jaw. His brother had injuries to his face, arm and two black eyes.
The violence erupted after Paul Smith, 49, and Keith Smith, 53, had travelled from Manchester to carry out some gardening work. Several other men, also from around Manchester, were by chance going door-to-door in that area selling compost.
Preston Crown Court was told there had been a feud between two of the men around a man called Wayne Langley having an affair with the wife of one of the brothers about two years earlier.
Langley, 29, of Kenyon Lane, Middleton; Arthur Pollitt, 54, of Eaves Lane, Oldham; his son Samual Pollitt, 27, of Huntingdon Avenue, Oldham and relative Andrew Pollitt, 43, of Park View, Oldham had all pleaded guilty to a charge of affray.
Langley was jailed for two years. Some of the defendants had earlier faced charges of wounding with intent and an alternative charge of wounding, but pleaded guilty to affray partway through a trial last month.
On April 3 this year Keith Smith was helping his brother out in his gardening business. They began to work on Riversway and by coincidence, the defendants turned up in a flat back vehicle. It had been alleged that Langley got out and armed himself with a pitch fork.
Jon Close, prosecuting, said Andrew Pollitt was said to have smashed two windows on a vehicle. That same defendant had been accused of hitting Paul Smith over the head with a hammer.
Seeing his brother lying injured, Keith Smith ran at two of the defendants. He ended up raising an arm across his face and was stabbed in the upper arm. Andrew Pollitt allegedly struck him with a hammer.
Keith Smith approached Langley and was said to have been stabbed in the chest with a pitch fork.
Mr Close told the court: “The Crown say Wayne Langley and Andrew Pollitt were armed with weapons and caused injury. It is difficult to say which they precisely caused.”
The defendants were arrested after their vehicle was spotted on the hard shoulder of the M6 travelling south.
Robin Kitching, defending Langley, said there had been a chance meeting between the two groups of men. “His intention was to have a verbal confrontation. There have been incidents of damage in the past and shouting in the street,” he said.
“He wasn’t expecting the sort of incident that occurred. He accepts punching Paul Smith on more than one occasion, hard in the face, after he ran at the defendant.”
Sentencing on Andrew Pollitt was adjourned until January for more information about one of his previous convictions.
Waheed Omran-Baber, for Arthur Pollitt, said he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was given 15 months prison, suspended for two years, with 240 hours unpaid work.
Christopher Evans, for Samuel Pollitt, said he had also played a lesser role. He had not used a weapon or inflicted injury. He was given 12 months prison, suspended for two years, with two years supervision and 200 hours unpaid work.
The judge, Recorder Nicholas Clarke QC, said “It is almost impossible to imagine a more serious offence of affray.”