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23rd Mar 2022

CCTV shows moment champion darts player batters neighbour with brick

Steve Hopkins

Paul ‘Cookie’ Cook won the News of the World Championship in 1990 and the Plymouth Open in 2015

CCTV has captured the moment a champion darts player battered his neighbour with a brick over an ongoing parking feud.

Paul ‘Cookie’ Cook injured pensioner Stephen Leonard, who he had known for 30 years, outside his home in Swindon, Wiltshire after Leonard tried to confront his wife about shining her car lights into his house.

The 65-year-old, who has played darts across the world and appeared in The World Match Play and World Championship Qualifiers, this week pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm at the Swindon Magistrates Court.

Keith Ballinger, prosecuting, told the court that Cook’s wife had reversed her car onto the driveway while leaving her lights on around 6pm on 22 October last year. Leonard came out of his house to confront her, as the lights were shinning into his living room, dazzling him.

Cook, who won the News of the World Championship in 1990 and the Plymouth Open in 2015, then appeared and things got heated with the pair shouting and swearing at each other for several minutes.

As the argument came to an end, Cook returned to his driveway, picked up a grey paving brick, and bashed it over his neighbour’s head – despite his wife screaming “Paul, don’t do it”.

Leonard immediately fell to the floor, where Cook punched him in the head before being pulled to the ground. Leonard was then on top of Cook.

As a result of the attack, Leonard – who usually walks aided by a stick – suffered cuts and bruises to his head, eye, cheekbone, and elbow. In his victim statement, Leonard told the court he continues to experience pain in his cheek and often wakes in the night thinking about the assault.

“I do feel intimidated by him, I’m worried it could happen again,” he said.

“I’m scared he may come to the door and I feel unsafe on my own property. I’m very wary of him now because I know what he is capable of.”

Cook told officers that he picked up the brick to place it on the wall, but – forgetting it was in his hand – struck Leonard with it.

Liz Highams, defending, said Cook has had ongoing issues and provocation from his neighbour and had “reacted badly”.

The court heard how Cook suffers from a heart condition and severe mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.

Probation officer Michelle James told the court that Cook is not suitable for some punitive elements – including unpaid work and a curfew – due to his illnesses, and recommended a Band D fine.

“ABH is a serious offence, but we understand that there was an element of provocation”, the chief magistrate said as he imposed a £265 fine, £85 prosecution costs, and a £34 surcharge.

No compensation was awarded “due to the nature of the relationship” between the pair, and no restraining order was made because it was “not practical” in the circumstances.

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