‘For god sake, this country was built on mateship’: Magistrate calls for calm between neighbours ‘hellbent on revenge’ after a property dispute turned violent.
‘For god sake, this country was built on mateship’: Magistrate calls for calm between neighbours ‘hellbent on revenge’ after a property dispute turned violent.

Nurse sets dog on elderly neighbour

A 55-YEAR-OLD nurse "at the end of her tether" has struck her 70-year-old bespectacled and hard-of-hearing neighbour after he had been bitten by one of her German Shepherds in an ugly dispute over a jetty.

Appearing at the Cleveland Magistrates Court on Thursday Veronica Maria Vella, 55, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning bodily harm.

The court heard Vella had confronted her neighbour "with her two German Shepherds standing either side of her" at 8.30am on September 5 last year on the boat ramp and accompanying jetty out the front of her property on Russell Island.

Police prosecutor Tetley said the complainant had sought legal advice and was under the impression that the structure was public property.

The court heard after urging Vella to call off her dogs the complainant was bitten on the knee by one of the animals after which Vella struck the man, breaking his glasses and causing a small cut above his eye.

"He didn't even see it (the blow) coming; he described a bang and felt immediate pain to the right side of his face.

"She hit his glasses.

"He said to her 'You have gone too far; you are in deep s**t lady.'"

Vella's defence solicitor said relations had soured between the neighbours over three years.

"There has been a history of the complainant trespassing on my client's property and onto their boat ramp and jetty," the solicitor said.

"My client has been extremely frustrated and angered by the whole situation.

"It has caused much stress and anguish which has lead to depression for which she is now taking medication."

The court heard Vella had been stood down from her job as a nurse and had consulted a solicitor to establish ownership of the jetty which she claimed had been sold to her as part of the property.

Vella's neighbour was present at court and claimed he had no malicious intent in wanting to access the jetty; the man said he has since sought plans to construct a structure out the front of his own property.

Magistrate Deborah Vasta acknowledged Vella, who had no criminal history, had acted out of character.

"You hit a 70-year-old man who wears glasses," Magistrate Vella said.

"And he (the complainant) seemed quite hellbent on revenge as well.

"You're a nurse; you deal with people who have been assaulted.

"You must have been at the end of your tether, for someone of your age and maturity, of good character, never been in front of a court.

"Clearly this has taken a toll on you; this is so out of character.

"And you have now had to suffer the humility and the indignity of being arrested."

The magistrate implored the parties to appeal to their better natures.

"For god sake, this country was built on mateship, on neighbourly care for one another," Magistrate Vasta said.

"Just back down and stop trying to be right about everything."

Vella was sentenced to a $500, 12-month good behaviour bond and ordered to pay her victim $400 in compensation for his broken glasses and pain and suffering.

No conviction was recorded.

Originally published as Nurse punches, sets dog on elderly neighbour