Garden dispute OAP Jam loses appeal against headbutt conviction

A pensioner at the centre of a bitter battle with a housing association over a communal garden has lost his appeal against a conviction for headbutting a worker.

Friday, 7th April 2017, 10:39 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:50 pm
Jam Rad

Jam Imani Rad, 67, argued he had not deliberately headbutted Community Gateway Repairs manager Mark Dunderdale, saying it was an accident.

It happened as staff visited the site on Harrington Street, Preston, last July to remove ornamental goods after the courts granted an order in their favour.

The irate tenant is said to have shouted and sworn at workers, calling them motherf***ers, and later lunged at him after workers removed statues and slabs.

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After being told he couldn’t photograph workers – another court order – he began swearing, shouting and ripping up plants, forcing Mr Dunderdale to suspend operations.

Mr Dunderdale left the scene bleeding from a split nose and two black eyes and had to go to hospital.

Rad currently has until May 8 to leave his home after landlord Community Gateway Association (CGA) won a court order to take possession of the property.

He says he is glad of the eviction but continues to deny the assault, saying the contact came about when Mr Dunderdale "moved his head upwards and caught his head".

Mr Dunderdale, who appeared close to tears at one point as he gave evidence, said: " I arrived at about 8.30am. This was as a result of a court order, it was prearranged.

"He came outside, he had a camera and began to take photos of the officers.

"My colleague Lisa Heyes stated he should refrain as this was part of a court order, and he said he was "breaking the law so ring the f***ing police".

"He then walked towards myself and began taking close up shots of all three of us working to move the possessions.

"I asked him to refrain and he swore and said he wasn't going to. He was calm but aggressive.

"I spoke to the operatives and asked if hey were OK to carry on. They were pretty much more than halfway through the job.

"They said we'll carry on. I began to help to speed the process up.

"At that stage Mr Rad had gone back inside. He came to the front door and the next thing I remember is he was screaming and shouting obscenities. He started screaming 'You weren't supposed to move that you motherf***ers'.

"There was lots of incomprehensible shouting."

The court heard Mr Dunderdale informed him they were leaving, and was about to pull his staff from the site after seeing 20 to 30 people walking up the road.

The team had feared it was connected to the work but it turned out to be a group of students.

As he was talking to neighbourhood officer, Lisa Heyes, who was pregnant, Rad stopped what he was doing and looked at them both.

Mr Dunderdale added: "He made an aggressive point directly towards us and then he began to run towards us. I'm not sure what was going to happen. I put my arm across Lisa and said: 'Just think about what your doing' and then his attention focused purely on me.

He approached me and went right up to my face where his nose was touching mine and he called me a motherf***er.

"I lifted my arm to protect myself, he was pushing more and more into me with his face.

"He said to me: 'Take your arm down, you are assaulting with your arm'. I said: "My arm is there to protect my personal space which you are invading."

"I then said: "OK Mr Rad I'm going to take my arm down and as soon as I did he lunged forward and headbutted me on the bridge of my nose. With a lot of force.

"It caused my nose to split and I felt blood run down my face.

"I was very upset. I was just carrying out my job. At the time I had never had any physical or aggressive contact with anyone in my life."

Lisa Heyes told the appeal of her fear at what was going to happen, and said she had "frozen".

Rad's defence lawyer told the appeal his client had been calm and polite at first and argued the contact came about after Mr Dunderdale had put his arm up.

He said staff had been treading in flowerbeds they should not have been in.

Cross examining Mr Dunderdale, he put to him that he "wasn't" looking at Mr Rad, and accused him of not doing his job properly.

Mr Rad told the court he had lived at his address for almost 13 years and for the last six years had had a "very difficult" relationship with the group.

He said: " I had a feeling they are constantly bothering me.

"I don't think it's the garden, that is their excuse.

"I'm not the best communicator.

"Of course I was upset I was emotionally very very sad but I was waiting for it to be destroyed. I already said the garden meant a lot to me.

"Supporters brought lots of pots to put the plants in. The workers said I should have done it before, which I should.

"I left it - I went in."

He said he had backed down and gone in for a cup of tea but looked out of his window to see workers destroying the areas the court had permitted to stay and went back out.

He said: " I was shaking, it is like you seeing somebody killing your children and you're standing there."

He told the court he had vomited with the stress when he went back into his home.

When the prosecution put the abusive comments to him he replied: " It's not the way I usually talk. I was very emotional and you don't think of the words that come out.

"I don't know their mothers."

Rad said he believed Mr Dunderdale had smiled when he challenged him about items being removed. But he denied headbutting him, saying he believed the worker had raised his head and the movement came from him. He claimed the injury on his own forehead was worse than the nose injury.

He added: " It was an accident. It was a nosebutt."

Rad was previously found guilty of assault and fined £180 with £200 compensation and £460 costs by Chorley Magistrates’ Court and must now pay an additional £400 costs.

Recorder Kevin Grice said: "He had created something of a shrine in that garden and we have absolutely no doubt he was genuinely very emotionally attached to it.

"It's common ground he did approach Mr Dunderdale. The appellant accepts he was shouting loudly. We are also satisfied he was abusive and they became very close to each other.

"The dispute of fact is what happened thereafter.

" The appellant's account is the two of them were face to face but that Mr Dunderdale had his head bowed chin to his chest, feeling either embarrassed about what had happened on his watch or alternatively feeling fearful. The appellants case is from that position he raised his head too quickly carelessly bringing it into contact with the appellants head."

"We are satisfied the headbutt was deliberate and constituted a common assault."

After the case Jam called on readers help him to find new accommodation and storage for his possessions as he is due to be evicted next month.

He added: "What can I do?

"You either win or you learn. I'm effectively homeless and have to sell my piano and freezer to raise money for a deposit.

"I don't know if I will stay in Preston. It is painful going past seeing what is happening to my garden.

"I'm very hurt.

"It was a beautiful experience but it's over. I will never even put a nail in the wall in my next house."