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Pakenham: Farmer, 72, attacked man when long-running row over £20,000 baler escalated

PUBLISHED: 12:51 14 March 2014 | UPDATED: 12:51 14 March 2014

Victim David Eley of Suffolk Agri Centre

Victim David Eley of Suffolk Agri Centre

A 72-year-old farmer has picked up his first-ever conviction after assaulting someone in a row over a baler.

John Gooderham, of Morleys Lane, Gislingham, attacked David Eley at the Suffolk Agri Centre in Pakenham as a long-standing row over the £20,000 piece of equipment took a bad-tempered turn.

West Suffolk Magistrates Court heard on Wednesday how the confrontation unfolded in October, just weeks after the pair had supposedly settled their differences.

Gooderham went to Suffolk Agri and demanded to speak to Mr Eley. When he came out from his office and addressed Gooderham over the counter, a row ensued and Gooderham reached out and grabbed Mr Eley by his tie, pulling his arm back as if to throw a punch.

The court heard that witnesses reported hearing Gooderham say “I’m going to murder you, I’m strong enough to do this you know”, but Declan Gallagher, representing Gooderham, said his client disputed the exact wording.

Gooderham pleaded guilty to a charge of assault by beating, but Mr Gallagher went on to criticise the Crown Prosecution Service for bringing the case to court.

Gooderham, who had no previous convictions, only rejected a caution for the incident because he believed by going to court he would be able to resolve his row with Mr Eley over the baler.

The 72-year-old rejected the caution without legal representation.

Mr Gallagher said: “The Crown Prosecution Service took a decision to prosecute this man as you can’t go round assaulting people. It’s a very disappointing decision but there’s nothing to be done about it.

“The police were content with a caution. The victim was content with a caution. The decision to prosecute was made entirely by the Crown Prosecution Service, and I now have a 72-year-old man with his first conviction.

“He says himself, as a straightforward farming man, he asks nothing more than that he is dealt with on a straight basis. He’d spent considerable amounts of money and without the issue being resolved, he decided that he would take matters into his own hands and try and appeal to the sense of injustice and the sense of fair dealing he hoped would be present.”

Gooderham was let off with a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £90 costs - £75 compensation to Mr Eley and a £15 victim surcharge.

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