Pensioner, 82, jailed for knife attack

Harry Harrison, 82, of Sewerby Headlands, Bridlington,  jailed for four and a half year for stabbing his neighbour over a washing machine.
Harry Harrison, 82, of Sewerby Headlands, Bridlington, jailed for four and a half year for stabbing his neighbour over a washing machine.

A retired 82-year-old factory manager was jailed for four-and-a-half years after knifing a neighbour during a dispute over noise.

On April 11 2014 pensioner Harry Harrison wrote a suicide note to the East Yorkshire Coroner and chose pills to take before picking up a six-inch knife and marching to his neighbour’s home at 4.50am to stab him.

Harrison, a former serviceman, confronted his neighbour, telling him his washing machine was on even though it was turned off.

White-haired Harrison of Sewerby Headlands, appeared at Hull Crown Court for sentence on Tuesday 6 January, after pleading guilty to a charge of wounding with intent, while a charge of attempted murder was left to lie on file. Crown barrister John Thackray said: “The neighbour opened the door and asked him what it was about. He appeared agitated and was asking him why the washing machine was on - he said it was not, and the neighbour tried to placate Mr Harrison. Before he knew it, Mr Harrison had lunged at him - pushing him into his hall.

“He was grappling with him and trying to push him out of the house. He then noticed Harrison had a knife, which he had not seen before, as he had opened the door half asleep. Mr Harrison then began stabbing at him with his right hand towards his legs and stomach.

“The neighbour described Harrison as crazed, Harrison said ‘You are evil, you should not be here’.

“The neighbour said he feared for his life. He said he did not think he would have been able to stop Mr Harrison, if he had not put up such a struggle.”

Mr Thackray added the force of the impact had broken the knife blade and a third party intervened to pull the pair apart. Harrison then fell to his knees as if he had no more energy.

The police were called and an ambulance took the neighbour to Hull Royal Infirmary where he was detained.

He was treated for two knife cuts to the chest, two 1cm puncture wounds to the stomach, and scratches to the neck and arm.

Harrison told police he had wanted to kill his neighbour and previously had problems with him for several weeks.

He said he had planned to attack him the previous evening after hearing the washing machine on at 10pm, but had second thoughts.

Sentencing, Judge Jeremy Richardson, QC, said: “This was a serious attack on an innocent man in the early hours of the morning. It has had repercussions for the man, including him having to be off work for four weeks and leave his own home. This is a tragedy from everyone’s perspective. You are the author of that tragedy.”

Mr Thackray said Harrison had a number of false issues with his neighbour and that he had previously confronted him about the washing machine.

Defence barrister Anil Murray said Mr Harrison was a hard working man who had been widowed and described by friends a proud gentleman who they could not believe was capable of such violence.

He said at the time of the attack he suffered from psychosis and paraphrenia – a delusional mental health condition which can happen to elderly, widowed people who live on their own.

Mr Murray said the defence accepted there was never any noise from the washing machine, but it was described by a psychiatrist as an auditory hallucination.

Sentencing Judge Jeremy Richardson told Harrison: “I have given you due weight to your psychosis and mental disorder you were suffering from at the time. Had you been a younger man and not suffering from a mental disorder you would have been sentenced to very much longer.

“This is a very unusual and in many respects a difficult case. You are 82-years-old. You have no previous convictions and you have lead an exemplary life of responsible work and happy marriage until your wife died in 2008.

“You now fall to be sentenced for a very serious crime which warrants a custodial sentence. Given your age that sentence will fall harder on you. You will be a vulnerable prisoner and the late-evening-of-your life will be spent in misery. You have ruined your own life.”

Harrison, who wore head phones to boost his hearing, smiled to his family in court before being led away to cells below court and a waiting prison van.