Nightmare neighbour ranted about chopping woman's head off and eating her after row about gardening

A nightmare neighbour who ranted that he would chop a woman's head off and eat her has avoided prison.

Stewart Ball, also known as "Peanut", fell out with his next-door neighbour over gardeners she was using and, after a vitriolic phone conversation, his sister called social services on him.

Shrewsbury Crown Court was told that 46-year-old Ball's neighbour confronted him on June 8 last year because his behaviour towards gardeners she employed meant no-one wanted to provide her with services.

Two days later, he spoke to his sister on the phone and during the course of it, she became "concerned for his mental health". "He made some threats in relation to his neighbour," said Rob Edwards, prosecuting. She phoned social services and told him he needed to seek help.

He was taken by ambulance for a mental health assessment with a medical professional. The police were also called. He told them there was an ongoing dispute with his neighbour.

"The conversation quickly turned to the extreme," said Mr Edwards. "He said he was going to kill her, chop her head off, put her in the fridge and eat her. He said he had always had thoughts about killing his neighbour."

The medic came to the conclusion that Ball had full mental capacity, so his threats were considered a criminal offence and he was arrested.

Ball, of Rural Cottages, Astley, near Shrewsbury, pleaded guilty to making threats to kill.

His victim was informed by police about the threats, and she said in a statement she now carries a personal alarm and is frightened to go out to her local church. "I find it scary, being here alone," she added. "I'm living in fear."

Kevin Jones, mitigating, said that Ball was not taking his medication at the time he made the threats, and he has since discover faith in Christianity. "He is committed to the church," added Mr Jones.

Judge Peter Barrie told Ball: "The things you threatened to do to her were very frightening, chiefly for her (Ball's neighbour), but also for everyone else who heard you say them and had to think about the possibility that you might carry them out. She has explained how it upset her greatly."

He handed Ball a 28-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months. Ball must also carry out 15 rehabilitation activity days and is subject of a restraining order, banning him from contacting the victim.

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