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Shropshire attacker 'used his bare fists' to smash van's windows in litter row

Bridgnorth | News | Published:

A Shropshire plumber told police he used his bare fists to destroy a van, smashing its windows and leaving holes in its panelling after a row about littering, magistrates heard.

Stuart Neil Clarke of New Road, Highley near Bridgnorth, told police his "fists were like concrete" when he was interviewed about smashing up the van and attacking its owner on March 8.

Clarke, 54, pleaded guilty to one charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and another of criminal damage when he appeared at Telford Magistrates Court.

However, he denied claims by the victim that he had used a set of plumber's spanners in the attack.

Magistrates ruled that they would need a Newton hearing to determine whether or not a weapon was used in the attack as this would affect the way they would sentence the case.

Prosecuting, Mrs Kate Price said that the day before the incident Clarke had gone to the address of the victim to ask about litter being dumped outside his home, the latest incident involving beer cans.

The pair had had "a heated discussion" which ended with the victim telling Clarke to "get a life" and slamming the door, she said.

That night the victim was woken by the sound of smashing outside his house. When he opened the door of his home he was attacked by Clarke and received bruising to his arms as he tried to protect himself.

Mrs Price said the final blow had left the victim with a cut to the head and a swollen eye. She added that he had been left "in a lot of shock".

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"I couldn't believe all of this was over a few beer cans," said the victim in a statement read out in court.

Mrs Price said the attack lasted just three minutes, during which time Clarke said he would "smash the victim into the ground".

She said the defendant was interviewed by police a couple of hours after the assault and denied using a weapon.

Mrs Price said that Clarke had told officers "My fists are like concrete. I didn't use a weapon, these are my weapons" and "I smashed all of the van up with my bare hands".

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The costs of repairing the damage after the attack, in which every window of the victim's Citroen Berlingo was smashed and panels were damaged or broken, was valued at £1,000.

The court was told Clarke had a previous conviction for theft in 2006 but had no violent offences on his record.

The Newton hearing is scheduled for June 8.

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