VIOLENT bat attacks are not exactly what you would expect a genteel 82-year-old lady to launch on a quiet bungalow-lined street.
But keen ballroom dancer Patricia Elkin ended up in the dock after beating her 84-year-old next-door neighbour with a police-style truncheon following a 14-year spat.
Preston Crown Court heard how Elkin, of Linden Avenue, Thornton, lashed out at her neighbour with the wooden bat during a fight which ended with him having to spend a night in hospital and undergo surgery to his left ear.
A judge was told how the defendant grabbed hold of the truncheon she kept behind her front door after her neighbour armed himself with a tree branch in a late night row outside their homes.
Sentencing Elkin, who had admitted affray, judge Robert Altham told her: “You need to accept, whatever the rights and wrongs of this dispute, taking a weapon out onto the street cannot be justified.”
The court heard Elkin and her neighbour had been in dispute for more than a decade and police had been called to the street on numerous occasions when he accused her of poisoning plants, creating a noise nuisance and throwing items over the garden fence.
The fall-out culminated in the fight on April 18 last year when the man noticed a security light in front of his home had lit up around 11.30pm.
When he looked outside he saw Elkin stood on the street.
Clare Thomas, prosecuting, said: “Because of difficulties in the past, he decided to arm himself with a piece of tree branch, in case he felt the need to defend himself.
“It would appear he went outside and shouted something towards the defendant, as a result of which, she went back into her property and took up a wooden truncheon.
“Both he and the defendant each say the other struck the first blow. He fell to the floor and was hit by Mrs Elkin while on the floor. The crown say it is difficult to tell who struck the first blow.”
The man suffered a cut to his head, bruises and a cut on his legs as well as bruised elbows and wrists.
He was forced to stay overnight in hospital and see a plastic surgeon to operate on a cut to his left ear.
Elkin was sentenced yesterday to two years’ supervision and ordered to pay £500 prosecution costs.
She was charged with wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, but that charge was dropped after she pleaded guilty to affray.
In police interview she claimed her neighbour had shouted abuse at her and threatened to “sort her out”.
She said he had walked towards her with a branch, so she went indoors to get the truncheon, in self defence.
Chris Hudson, defending, told the court: “She is a fiercely independent 82-year-old of exemplary character. She would feel the last 12 years of her life have been blighted by this neighbour dispute. It is a tragedy really for both sides. In my submission, there is fault on both sides.”
A large number of references were handed in at court, written by people supporting Elkin.
There has been no problems between the two in the last 14 months, the court heard.
Judge Altham told Ekin: “The references paint a picture of a lady whose friends regard her as being, at the very least, someone who can stand up for herself.
“There clearly is a background of animosity running over many years between you and your next door neighbour.
“He suffered extremely unpleasant injuries. It is right to say you don’t bear criminal responsibility for the causing of those injuries.”
Following sentencing, a Lancashire Police spokesman said: “This is an on-going dispute which has been simmering for 14 years.”