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Gran who sprayed neighbours in disinfectant after they ‘coughed’ in garden is convicted of ASSAULT



A GRAN has been convicted of assault after she squirted her next door neighbours with disinfectant after they "coughed" in the garden during Covid. 

Jane Downall, 61, used the antibacterial spray from Aldi to clean the wooden garden fence after Samantha Fisher and her daughter Ebony leaned over to chat to another resident three doors down. 

But droplets inadvertently hit them in the face and both had to seek medical treatment in hospital for suspected burns. 

Police later arrested Downall, a countryside warden, after officers arrived at the scene in Heywood, Gtr Manchester, in four patrol cars on April 5 last year.

Both victims had redness to their faces but did not suffer lasting injuries. 

Mrs Fisher's husband Clifton was also nearly sprayed but managed to dodge the liquid.

Tameside Magistrates’ Court heard how Downall had been living next door to the Fishers since 2013 but the neighbours had repeatedly made complaints about each other. 

Their feud was sparked after Mr Fisher erected the fence in 2018 to separate their gardens.

Construction worker Mr Fisher told the hearing: “We were having a family BBQ, it was just me, my wife and Ebony. 

“My wife was speaking to another neighbour and was speaking to her three doors down over the fence.

“I remember seeing Miss Downall go inside her house then come straight back with a spray bottle in her right hand. 

''She started saying ‘get away from my fence’ then walked towards me.

“She sprayed several times. My wife and Ebony were both repeatedly washing their faces and their eyes and they both had to go in an ambulance.”

But Downall denied deliberately targeting them and said she was trying to “inflict injuries on the germs”. 

She claims she was frightened of Covid and was conscious of the two metre rule.

In a police interview, she added: “I had been squirting disinfectant because they had been coughing over my fence. It is not a harmful spray.”

But Downall - who was a contestant on the Nick Knowles BBC wildlife show Wildest Dreams - was convicted of common assault. 

She later appealed against the verdict but last week it was thrown out by a judge who conditionally discharged her for six months. 

Judge Angela Nield said: “The defendant said she was very keen to observe these Covid regulations and did not want to become infected herself, but there is a history of acrimony, complaints and counter complaints.

"At the time the country had been in lockdown for no more than three weeks and the pandemic was in its infancy. 

“We do not find she made a deliberate action to harm the complainants but her actions were reckless.”