St Leonards man found not guilty in World Cup neighbour altercation

We take a look back over some of our most-read crime stories from October
We take a look back over some of our most-read crime stories from October

A St Leonards man has been found not guilty of threatening to stab his neighbour after an altercation during the World Cup semi-final.

Philip Davison, of Battle Road, appeared in Hastings Magistrates Court charged with threatening to stab his next door neighbour while waving a knife after the England v Croatia game turned sour.

But magistrates decided there was not enough evidence to suggest he had done so at the trial on Tuesday (October 2).

The court heard how – enraged with Croatia’s equalising goal, having placed a £400 bet on the game – Mr Davison threw a pint across his room and started to smash things.

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His next door neighbour Anthony Stuart said: “I heard crashing and smashing inside his flat.”

Mr Stuart claimed as he was passing his neighbour’s window – which overlooks Mr Stewart’s garden, in Beauport Park Golf Course – he heard a shout of abuse.

“That’s when he exploded,” Mr Stuart told the court, “I could see it in his eyes, saying ‘come outside I’ll get you’. That’s when he was threatening me with a knife. He said he was going to stab me in the eye.”

Mr Stuart said he was intimidated and scared by the incident. He said he went inside, locked the door and phoned the police.

The court also heard from Camille Stewart, wife of Anthony, who said she was inside their home during the incident.

She said: “He said ‘come to the gate and we’ll have this out’”

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But Mr Davison’s lawyer, Richard Gowthorpe, said in fact what had happened was the smashing sounds were the ‘straw that broke the camels back’ and Mr Stuart had confronted Mr Davison.

He argued Mr Stuart had hurled abuse at his client and a heated argument ensued – but Mr Davison never produced a knife or threatened violence.

Mr Davison, 51, said: “It was the semi final of the World Cup, it was quite a poignant day.”

He said when Croatia scored their first goal in the 68th minute of the game: “I threw my pint glass across the kitchen in disgust and chucked one or two other things, I was pretty upset.

“[Mr Stuart] came to my window that was ajar,” he said, and an argument ensued about the noise.

“I wasn’t in the best frame of mind the football going the way it did. It was an altercation of words,” he said, maintaining he never produced a knife.

Cross examining, prosecution lawyer Paul Edwards said Mr Davison had a large sum of money on the game and had been drinking.

But defending Richard Gowthorpe argued: “He has lost control in relation to an inanimate object. The charges he faces today are a wholly different matter.”

After retiring for around 15 minutes, the magistrates returned to give their verdict.

Lead Magistrate Carole Shave said: “When things happen between neighbours it is very serious and makes the situation harder when you have to go back to those places.”

Speaking to Mr Davison, she said: “I want you to think about how you are going to behave in the future. We appreciate you are going to move on soon.

“Whilst there was an abusive altercation we can’t find there was threatening behaviour with intent to commit violence.”

She said the Crown had not proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Mr Davison was found not guilty and was told he was free to go. An application was made for a restraining order for the defendant not to contact Mr Stuart, but this was denied.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Davison said: “My solicitor did a first class job. I was devastated when this happened.

“I think they have read the truth in my face.”