A warehouse manager who punched a neighbour unconscious for playing his hi-fi for six hours has spoken of his relief after being cleared of criminal charges.
Former Hull Dockers prop forward Tom Learoyd, 33, said if he could turn the clock back he would, but reacted out of instinct and punched his 47-year-old neighbour of four years knocking him out cold. The man needed 14 stitches to his mouth.
Father-of-two Mr Learoyd, 33, of Wentworth Road, Bridlington, told police he had acted in lawful self defence, but the Crown Prosecution Service went ahead with a two-day trial at Hull Crown Court (January 11-12) despite Mr Learoyd saying his neighbours were drunk.
In a police interview he told officers he had tried to speak to his neighbours about noise before, but they just hid.
A jury took less than 15 minutes to find him not guilty of causing the man actual bodily harm. Crucially an independent witness described Mr Learoyd as being calm at the scene and retreating.
Speaking outside court, Mr Learoyd said: “I am relieved it is all over. It has restored my faith in the criminal justice system because they found I used lawful self defence. I should not have been charged in the first place. I would have lost my job if it had gone badly today. I just want to put this behind me.”
He has now put his house up for sale and did not want to talk about his neighbours.
A jury heard the incident happened around 9pm on Friday December 12 2014 when Mr Learoyd and his wife Carla grew tired of their neighbour’s music in their shared three-bedroom semi-detached house.
There are two versions of events. The neighbour told the jury he answered the door only after his wife appeared to be arguing with Mr and Mrs Learoyd about the noise. The neighbour admitted he had drunk five or six vodka and Cokes and had been playing music since 3pm winding down after a week at work.
He said: “They said my hi-fi was no too loud when it was not. I threatened to call the police, but they would not move. I was ushering him (Tom) away with my hands. The next thing I remember was being in hospital in the accident and emergency in Hull Royal Infirmary.”
The neighbour’s wife said Tom Learoyd wanted the music turning down. The jury heard two women then became embroiled in a cat fight throwing punches and pulling hair on the pavement.
Mr Learoyd told the jury it was not the first time he had complained because the noise was preventing them sleeping. He said: “The final straw was my daughter was upset her ears were hurting. I thought it was important that we go around and say we have had enough. I said can you turn the music down. I could tell straight away she was drunk. The guy appeared behind and he looked aggressive.
“He looked like he had something in his hand, possibly a key or corkscrew. He came towards me and I pushed him off. He said he was going to crack my skull.
“The woman grabbed my wife’s hair. I saw him rushing in and I just lashed out. He was on the floor instantly. I believed he was going to do some harm to her.”
Defence barrister Simon Godfrey said: “This was a horrible incident of two sets of neighbours fighting on the street.”
He said Mr Learoyd was a hard-working man who made a split-second decision to defend his wife and acted in lawful self defence.
He said: “What he did that night was reasonable. You may think he reacted quite properly.”