A ROADS boss who headbutted his neighbour and threw her husband over a gate after trying to gouge his eyes out has been convicted of assault.

Harry Ferris, 65, exploded twice over perceived slights from his next-door neighbours the Hellawells within four months, Burnley magistrates were told.

CCTV footage of his first attack showed 18-and-a-half stone Ferris, who is around six foot tall, berating Hilda Hellawell after she flung a hosepipe over a connecting gate, while gardening.

She told magistrates he hurled obscenities at her, including calling her a derogatory name, before he thrust his head forward into her face, causing her to step back.

Mrs Hellawell said she was ‘shocked and surprised’ and later reported the matter, at their adjoining homes in Bull Hall, off Todmorden Road, Bacup, to police.

Ferris, director of a highways construction firm, said: “Mrs Hellawell is only 4ft 7ins and I am six foot — what would I have to do — get down on my knees to do this? I have not made contact with her and I had no intention to harm her at all.”

Magistrates heard that the second incident occurred on Christmas Eve last year when Ferris arrived home from shopping with his wife, while Phillip Hella-well was repairing a gate between the two properties.

During an audio recording made by Mr Hellawell at the time, played to the court, Ferris is heard repeatedly swearing at his neighbour before warning him he was ‘dead’.

The court heard Mr Hellawell put his arm up to defend himself before Ferris advanced, punched him in the stomach and then attempted to gouge his eyes before pushing him over the gate and on to some stone steps.

Ferris claimed he believed that Mr Hellawell was going to attack him, when he raised his arm, and had twice tried to knee him in the groin. He insisted he had ‘placed’ his neighbour over the gate ‘to restrain him’.

Brian Koffman, defending, said Ferris believed he had been the victim of a two-year campaign of harrassment from the Hellawells since moving to their Bull Hall home.

The husband had an ‘obsessional’ interest in his own security and had CCTV cameras fitted around his property and audio capture equipment installed at various locations, as well as carrying around a dictation machine wherever he went, the court was told.

But after a two-day hearing magistrates found Ferris, who has no previous convictions, guilty of two assault offences. He was bailed for sentence on August 5, on condition he does not attempt to communicate with his neighbours, who have lived at Bull Hall since 1986.

Magistrates chairman Alan Ravenscroft said it was clear Ferris was the aggressor in both incidents, in particular rejecting claims he had acted in self-defence in relation to the altercation with Mr Hellawell.