South Shields couple spared jail after attack on man on crutches

Fiona and Michael Swinhoe appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates Court
Fiona and Michael Swinhoe appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates Court

A couple who attacked a man in a dispute over the sale of a car have been spared jail.

Magistrates heard Fiona Swinhoe, 28, jumped on their victim’s back while her partner Michael Swinhoe, 35, threw punches at him before driving their own car at him as he stood in the road supported by his crutches.

They then wrote off their victim’s car by driving into it.

The couple, of Norham Avenue, South Shields, were earlier both convicted of common assault in their absence while Michael Swinhoe was also found guilty of criminal damage.

When they appeared for sentence at South Tyneside Magistrates Court both were sentenced to eight weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, ordered to carry out 20 days of rehabilitation activity and pay £75 each in compensation.

Fiona Swinhoe was also told to complete 10 months of drug rehabilitation.

Paul Anderson, prosecuting, said their victim had a back problem and was on crutches at the time of the incident on October 10, last year.

He said there had been a knock on the door and the victim’s father had answered - telling the couple that his son was not home.

However, the pair shouted for him to come outside and an argument ensued.

Mr Anderson said: “The woman jumped on his back and the man started throwing punches at him. It was a joint attack.”

The court heard the couple then got into their car and, as the victim stood on the road supported by his crutches, the couple’s car repeatedly reversed and pretended to drive at him.

Me Anderson said: “The vehicle reversed a number of times and drove forward but did not hit him. It then drove straight into the victim’s BMW, which was parked outside.”

The court heard that during the incident, the victim smashed the couple’s windscreen with his crutch.

A statement from the victim read: “The incident left me feeling angry. I’m out of pocket financially. My car insurance has gone up and I’ve

been living at my dad’s since the incident. I feel intimidated.”

Mr Anderson said: “The whole thing seems to have come about after he sold an Astra car to Michael and Fiona Swinhoe. He had never met them before. Since then it’s been one long catalogue of harassment.

“It comes to a head on this particular day with the criminal damage and the assault.”

The court heard the victim, was checked over in hospital for an injury to his nose. His vehicle, valued at £2,400, was written off.

Joanne Gatens, representing both defendants, said: “These offences are 12 months old. Both have served custodial sentences since then.

“Both have had time to reflect upon their behaviour.

“It’s some time since Michael was convicted of an offence of violence. Fiona was last convicted for violence in 2013.

Ms Gatens asked the court to suspend any sentence of imprisonment, adding: “It has been a traumatic year for their children, having been separated from their parents.