Insult led to air rifle and paint stripper attack

Martin Weatherill appeared at Teesside Crown Court
Martin Weatherill appeared at Teesside Crown Court

A man poured paint stripper over a car and fired an air rifle at a house after a neighbourhood dispute got out of hand.

Martin Weatherill fell out with his 59-year-old victim, who described him as ‘a drunken bum’.

The pair scuffled in the street before Weatherill launched a drunken attack on the victim’s property, Teesside Crown Court heard.

“The two men lived close to each other, in Hartlepool,” said Emma Atkinson, prosecuting.

“There was a history between the two of them, the victim describing Weatherill as a nuisance and a drunken bum.

“Earlier on the day of the incident last September the two men had scuffled in the street.

“The victim was in bed at about 10.15pm when he heard a pinging noise, which turned out to be Weatherill firing an air riffle at the victim’s Chrysler car.

“Weatherill left the scene, but returned a short time later and fired at the victim’s house.

“It emerged paint stripper had been poured on the Chrysler.”

Police arrested Weatherill a short time later, the court heard.

“Paint stripper was found in his kitchen in his house at the time in Derwent Street,” said Ms Atkinson.

“Two air rifles were found in the loft.

“The victim says his car had to be written off, and he is frightened at what Weatherill might due in future.”

Weatherill, 36, now of Braemar Road, Hartlepool, admitted possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, and he admitted criminal damage, both on September 6, last year.

Martin Scarborough, defending, said in mitigation: “This was a foolish, drunken incident of which Mr Weatherill has very little memory.

“The air rifles were left to him by his brother, and left in his loft.

“Since this incident Mr Weatherill has moved away from the area. There have been no further problems, nor are there likely to be.

“Mr Weatherill accepts he has problems with his mental health and drinking and is seeking assistance with both difficulties.”

Judge Tony Briggs sentenced Weatherill to 14 months in prison, suspended for two years, and 15 rehabilitation activity days.

The judge told him: “Anyone who discharges an air rifle in the direction of the property of another commits a serious offence.

“Pouring paint stripper onto a car is a vicious, cowardly, and nasty thing to do, not least because it can be so hard to put right.

“You have pleaded guilty, and a repetition of this offending looks unlikely. I am just able to suspend the inevitable prison sentence.”

The air rifles were confiscated and will be destroyed.