JURORS took just 90 minutes to convict a man who claimed he had struck a man more than twice his age with a broom handle in self-defence.

Aaran Draper, 31, told the jury he’d swung the broom at his 69-year-old neighbour to try at get him away from their garden fence. The pensioner had thrown dog biscuits, bird seed and a piece of wood after complaining of the younger man's cannabis use. 

Swindon Crown Court heard the broom left an 18cm gash in the victim’s forehead that required 20 staples. 

Jurors took around an hour-and-a-half to find Draper guilty of causing grievous bodily harm.

Judge Jason Taylor QC remanded him into custody to be sentenced on May 13. 

He told the man, now living in Cheltenham: “You have been convicted by the jury – rightly, in my view. I will adjourn for a pre-sentence report to enable you to put forward the best mitigation. Your sentencing will take place on May 13. 

“This was a disproportionate and unnecessary attack on a vulnerable person for which it seems to me immediate custody is inevitable. For that reason, I am going to remand you in custody.” 

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Swindon Crown Court, where the trial was heard

During the short two-day trial, the jury heard that Draper and his mother lived next door to the victim in The Wyncies, Bishopstone. 

The victim and his wife had become increasingly frustrated by the defendant smoking cannabis in the garden and had even reported the matter to the police. Mark Ashley, prosecuting, said on Tuesday: “They were unable to open their windows because of the regularity of the smoke coming from Mr Draper smoking cannabis.”

On July 19 last year, Draper was smoking in the back garden when his victim, who spent five weeks in hospital the previous year and required oxygen to help him breathe, told him to “stop smoking that s***”. 

He began throwing dog biscuits and bird seed at the younger man, suggesting it was because he was behaving like an animal. He threw over a piece of wood that the victim claimed had missed Draper, but which the defendant said hit his mum. 

Mr Ashley told the jury: “What then happened was that Mr Draper picked up an old broom and whacked the complainant not once but twice over the head and, in doing so, caused an 18cm gash in the top of his head that required 20 staples.” 

Draper said he’d swung the broom to try and get his victim away from the fence separating the two gardens.

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The broom handle used to strike Draper's victim Picture: ADVER

In a tense exchange with the prosecutor on Tuesday, he said he did not know how his victim’s injuries had occurred and added it was “not directly related” to his swinging the broom. 

That earned a stiff rebuke from Mr Ashley, who said: “[Hitting] him over the head with a broom – it is directly related, Mr Draper, let’s not shy away from it. You’ve gone to him, you didn’t go inside, you’ve hit him multiple times. 

“Not directly related, really? Are you seriously telling us that?” 

Draper replied: “It’s the incident isn’t it. It’s not me hitting him is the problem. It’s the incident.” He added: “You don’t know what he [the victim] is like. You don’t know how aggressive he is. You can see him in this video acting all cowardly and fearful. Absolutely rubbish.” 

Earlier, he told Mr Ashley he didn’t underestimate anyone and suggested his victim might have had “wheels on his feet”, adding “they’re called Heelys, Google it”. 

He also told the barrister in a tone of mock disappointment: “A man of your stature, believing such bulls***.”

Draper’s victim, now 70, admitted to defence advocate Emma Handslip that he had had a crowbar in his hands as he clashed with the younger man on an earlier occasion. He denied using it as a weapon to threaten the defendant, instead saying he was planning to use it to help him climb over the fence.

Draper, of Leckhampton Hill, Cheltenham, will be sentenced on May 13.