Angry Burnley pensioner attacked birdwatcher neighbour chasing him up street shouting 'scaredy-cat'

Burnley Magistrates' Court
Burnley Magistrates' Court
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A Burnley pensioner attacked his birdwatcher neighbour with a walking stick, after, he claimed, he spotted him with a camera "facing his landing window", court heard.


Angry Harold Durant "whacked" the victim, Ian Zirins between his eyebrows with the weapon, after saying: "I told you I would get you."

He then chased the victim up the road, shouting that Mr Zirins was a "scaredy- cat".

Retired Mr Zirins, who had had a heart attack not long before, was left with reddening to his skin, very anxious and scared, unable to sleep properly and was prescribed medication by his doctor.

The town's magistrates were told he had had long-standing issues with 69-year-old Durant and police had already given the defendant a harassment warning.

Durant alleged to the court that one morning he had seen Mr Zirins with a "big camera" facing his landing window.

He continued: "I went round straight away. I did smash my way into his house. He rang the police. He (the officer) said: 'He's a birdwatcher'."

Durant, who is the sole carer for his sick wife, claimed to the Bench that Mr Zirins irritated him and wound him up on purpose. He continued: "I really need to go on an anger management course, myself, personally. I need somebody to calm me down. "

Prosecutor Alex Mann told the hearing that at 6-30pm on January 19th, Mr Zirins went for a walk.

He was going up from Padiham Road, when he saw Durant, with a walking stick.

Despite the stick, the defendant ran across the road, stopped in front of him, said. "don't even think about it" (calling the police) and struck him across the forehead. Durant's daughter later turned up to apologise.

Mrs Mann told the court: "Mr Zirins had recently had a heart attack and says, 'I'm afraid this will affect my recovery'. She added the victim had a bad headache for two days after the incident and went to hospital. He had had a raised heart rate since the assault.

The defendant, who was not represented by a solicitor, said he looked after his wife, who has been undergoing tests for cancer, has had sepsis and had come out of hospital the day of the assault. He had severe eczema and was "stressed 24 hours".

The day before he had flicked a cigarette on the floor. He went on: "This chap were behind me and he did me for £85. I was fuming. I was off my head. "

The defendant said: "I thought I would go out to get some fresh air. I went a walk for a good half hour. I was walking down back home. I thought it was a friend of mine walking up. I shuffled across the road. As I got to this gentlemen, he just went like that (demonstrating, the court clerk said, holding up a fist towards the defendant), as if to stop me from passing. I just whacked him one and chased him up the street as I was going to my house."

Durant, when asked by the clerk, said he did all the chores at home. He continued: "You name it, I do it. I'm coming back as a woman."

Durant told the justices: "I really need to go on an anger management course. I need help, I need help."

He alleged Mr Zirins did "all sorts of things" to irritate him.

The defendant told the justices: "He winds me up and to be honest with you, you will end up jailing me. The fella really irritates me and he does it on purpose."

Durant, of Loughrigg Close, admitted common assault. He was fined £40, with £85 costs and a £30 victim surcharge and must pay the victim £50 compensation. He was also given a 12-month restraining order, banning contact with Mr Zirins.

The Bench chairman told him: "You must get your priorities right and think about your situation and your wife's. If there is anything he does that's illegal, contact the police."

The chairman continued: "Whatever he does, just turn the other cheek."

The defendant answered: "That will be very hard." As he left court, Durant told the magistrates: "See you again."