A furious gardener who chased his next-door neighbours with a chainsaw after a bizarre row over a FENCE has been spared jail.
Christian Hager, 33, flew into a rage after discovering Mark Walton and Sharon Lamb, both 44, had put the structure up between their two houses.
The self-employed gardener took a chainsaw from his van and cut down a fence post on December 23 last year.
He then threatened his neighbours and chased them with the power tool missing Miss Lamb’s stomach by a matter of centimetres.
Hager admitted affray on the basis that at no time did he try to strike anyone with the chainsaw when he appeared at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court on Friday (29/4).
He was handed six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 180 hours unpaid work.
Hager, of Kidsgrove, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs., was also ordered to pay £600 costs.
Judge Paul Glenn told him: “Your behaviour was utterly disgraceful.
“In the cold light of day you almost faced a prison sentence because of a fence.
“Your behaviour was utterly stupid and frankly quite disgraceful. Your neighbour had erected the fence despite your objections and secured it to a party wall.
“Any difficulty could have been dealt with through appropriate legal channels. But you decided to deal with it yourself. You took a chainsaw to cut down the fence.
“Your neighbours indicated they would call the police but you were not deterred. When Mr Walton appeared you threatened him while brandishing the chainsaw.
“An independent witness described you holding it close to his face. They genuinely feared seeing your state of mind that they would be attacked.”
Hager’s neighbours told how they have been forced to install CCTV after the incident which was seen by Miss Lamb’s three children.
She said: “We just wanted to put the fence up for privacy.
“We didn’t put it over his kitchen window or anything like that and we spoke to him about it before but he just wasn’t happy about it.
“He tried to jump over the wall and swing the chainsaw at Mark. He had to put the fence between himself and the chainsaw.
“I was talking to him calmly about it at first but he just wasn’t going back in his house. He stood by the window and was just staring and shouting at me through the window.
“The children were hysterical, not knowing what was going on.
“It has just been terrible. It is something we have struggled to deal with and get over.”
Mr Walton added: “I’ve had to spend a lot of money putting up CCTV around the house because we didn’t feel safe.
“I am disgusted with the sentence he has got.
“We are building a new house and were hoping he would be locked up for our last 12 months here but obviously that hasn’t happened.”
The court heard Hager flipped after he returned home to Whitehill Road and discovering a fence had been erected between the two properties.
He then claimed Mr Walton had damaged his wall with one of the fence posts which he cut off using his chainsaw.
Prosecutor Geoff Whelan said: “The defendant said: ‘I will get my chainsaw and cut it down’.
“He started shouting for Mr Walton. Miss Lamb told him she would ring the police. He said: ‘Call the police, I do not care’.
“Miss Lamb locked her house. She saw the defendant looking through her windows. She called the police.
“Fifteen minutes later Mr Walton heard the defendant say: ‘I am going to cut this fence now’. He heard a chainsaw being revved.
“He left his house. The defendant said ‘Come on then’ and ran at him with a chainsaw.
“Mr Walton shouted ‘Put the chainsaw down you psycho’ but the defendant swung it a second time.
“Miss Lamb and her children came out of the front door. Miss Lamb approached the defendant and said: ‘What are you doing? I have got kids here’.
“The defendant leant forwards towards her. She leant backwards and felt the chainsaw a matter of centimetres away from her stomach.
“She said the defendant appeared to be in another world. She feared for her children’s safety. She was very distressed.”
Hager, who had no previous convictions, told police he got the chainsaw out to damage the fence.
Paul Hiatt, defending, said he felt “betrayed” when he saw his neighbours’ new fence.
He added: “He felt the easiest way was to cut the fence down.
“He accepted he cut the wooden post. He apologises for his actions.”