Man shot neighbour four times in row over hedge, inquest told

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The Independent Online

A man shot his neighbour dead after a long-running feud over the small privet hedge that separated their gardens, an inquest heard yesterday.

Robert Dickenson, 52, told police that "something in the back of my head told me to just get him" before he shot George Wilson, 66, a keen gardener, through the head in the doorway of his home in Lincoln, last June. Mr Dickenson was found hanging in his cell at Lincoln prison seven days later, while being kept on remand charged with murder, the inquest jury at Lincoln Crown Court was told.

The two men, who lived in numbers 16 and 18 Webster Close, were seen arguing in the street after Mr Dickenson cut the height of the hedge from two and a half feet to a few inches.

Mr Dickenson's partner, Pamela Smith, said he thought it was getting "a bit straggly" and she came home from work one day to find he had chopped some of it down. But in a statement read to the jury, Josephine Reidy, who lived opposite the pair, said Mr Dickenson had cut down the hedge to annoy Mr Wilson. She said she heard Mr Wilson say: "I don't believe it - he has took my hedge up." Mr Dickenson replied: "It's only a f****** hedge."

Mr Dickenson told Dr Mick Summer, a psychiatric consultant: "I was trimming the hedge and my neighbour came out and argued with me. He yanked the trimmer off me and injured my arm. I went and got the gun and shot him." He told a police officer later: "We started arguing because I cut the hedge. It turned into a slagging match. I just lost it and got the gun. He should have been shot dead a long time ago."

Mr Wilson had mown his lawn on the morning of his death. In the afternoon a fight ensued with his neighbour who, on one account, looked "drunk and drugged". Beverley Millington, a neighbour, who found Mr Wilson shaken and with his spectacles broken, was with him when Mr Dickenson appeared with "something shining" behind his back. "I tried to push George inside because I could see it was a gun," she said. "I thought I'd put him inside and then [he] shot him."

Ms Reidy heard two loud bangs within a few seconds of each other, then saw Mr Dickenson walking in front of Mr Wilson's house carrying what looked like a short-barrelled black handgun. She then noticed a pair of legs sticking out from the doorway of Mr Wilson's home. A post-mortem examination found Mr Wilson was shot four times with a revolver.

Mr Dickenson was later discovered drunk on the kitchen floor at his home. Police found cannabis plants in the attic, cannabis-making material and empty beer cans. A note was also found which read: "George, No 16, child molester, pervert, must get."

The police officer leading the investigation into Mr Wilson's death told the inquest there was no substance to the allegations of paedophilia. The inquest into the two deaths is expected to last for a further three days.