A "violent" fight erupted in the street as tensions bubbled after a builder deliberately did £20,000 worth of damage to a couple’s house, a court heard.

Robert Symons, 51, beat builder Jeff King, 54, to the ground minutes before his wife Jenny Turrell, 49, stabbed him in the neck with a screwdriver, Canterbury Crown Court heard today (August 21).

The Swanley couple, who live with Mr Symons’ mother in Birchwood Park Avenue, are accused of enacting a revenge attack on their builder, who deliberately destroyed the property they were refurbishing in Margate, the jury was told.

The court heard Mr King had been a friend of Symons for 30 years, but they fell out after the couple refused to pay the builder for renovation work he had done on the house.

Symons and Turrell were abroad in Turkey when their estate agent informed them of damage to the property, which Mr King is thought to have done on the night of January 29 this year.

They flew home and on February 10 a chance encounter with Mr King in Ethelbert Gardens led to the fight, the jury was told.

Symons said he was surprised by the meeting, because "the last I had heard (Mr King) was going to throw away his mobile phone and disappear."

The defendant was reversing his red van slowly down the road when he saw his former friend, and stopped because Mr King was scratching on the back of his vehicle, he claimed.

He denied prosecutor Dominic Connolly's claims he deliberately trapped the victim between his van and a skip, in order to attack him.

Symons told the jury after getting out of his van, leaving the engine running and the driver’s door open, he saw Mr King reaching for his right pocket.

He added: "Because of what he had said to me in the past, I assumed he was going for an offensive weapon of some description, a knife.

"In the past he had said unless I paid him the money, he would stab me - he would damage the house, brick by brick."

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Turrell and Symons

The 6ft1 defendant, who used to box, said several punches were thrown between himself and Mr King.

He admitted he got the better of the builder, who claims to only weigh 9st compared to Symons’ 13st.

Symons added he hit Mr King to the ground before returning to his house on the same street and knocking for his wife.

Turrell said she was scraping spilt paint from the courtyard of their home with a screwdriver, when her "ashen faced" husband knocked loudly, and said Mr King was out on the street.

She told the court she wanted to speak to Mr King, because "I was upset, I was angry.

"I wanted to ask why he had done this to the house."


She said she was unaware she was still holding the screwdriver in her hand, and denied Mr Connolly’s claims she deliberately lunged at the builder, who later bled substantially from the injury to his neck.

Turrell told the court: "He hit me and I went back and struck out, hitting his neck or his face - just to protect myself."

However, witness Clare Breakspear previously told the court she saw Turrell holding the screwdriver behind her back before attacking.

"You wanted to take him by surprise," said Mr Connolly.

"You and your husband were livid at what Mr King had done, and wanted revenge."

Symons, a former police officer who claims he was parking his van when the screwdriver attack happened, then continued to punch Mr King, and kicked him when he fell to the ground, the court heard.

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Canterbury Crown Court

Symons said: "I regret doing that now.

"I remember seeing when Mr King was on the floor, there was a lot of blood around his neck area.

"When I initially confronted him there was no blood."

The defendant said he continued to attack Mr King "in self defence or protecting my wife", who had brain surgery in past and was allegedly punched in the head by Mr King.

Symons added: "I could not believe one that man would hit a woman, and that he would hit my wife when he knew her medical condition."

Judge Adele Williams ruled out the attempted murder charge for both defendants.

She told the jury: "There is insufficient evidence for the count of attempted murder to continue.

"The indictment now reads wounding with intent to cause really serious harm."

Mr Connelly said the couple made a joint attack on Mr King, after Symons weakened him in the initial fight.

Both Symons and Turrell deny wounding with intent to cause serious harm.

The trial continues.