AN EGREMONT man armed himself with a baseball bat and used it in an unprovoked attack on one of his neighbours, leaving him so shaken he became suicidal.

John Michael MacLaurin, 51, yelled at the man before using the baseball bat to hit him on his torso and then continued to swing the bat, Carlisle Crown Court heard. The defendant also threatened to kill another neighbour.

MacLaurin admitted an actual bodily harm assault and possessing an offensive weapon. Emily Land, prosecuting, outlined the facts.

The violence erupted without warning just before 10.30pm on July 14, 2022, said the prosecutor. The victim was standing in his garden when MacLaurin walked past, carrying the baseball bat.

For no apparent reason, the defendant yelled at the man, accusing him of making fun of him.

He then walked through the garden gate, still shouting and hit the man once with the bat. Another neighbour who heard the shouting came outside to investigate but retreated into his home when MacLaurin made a death threat.

Miss Land said: “When the officers arrested the defendant and interviewed him, he said he could remember nothing from leaving St Bees. He said he’d known the victim for a long time.”

In an impact statement, the victim said the physical effect of the attack was severe soreness and bruising, which led to him being X-rayed. His torso was still sore. The man spoke also of how what happened left him feeling suicidal.

“I tried to end my life by overdose the following day… I didn’t want to be here anymore,” he said, though he felt his actions were a cry for help after he had battled with depression since a diagnosis when he was 16.

The violence  left him struggling to sleep and unable to leave the house for routine appointments. “I was already very vulnerable, and this made me worse,” he said.

At the time, MacLaurin was serving a community order for a common assault.

After his offence, the defendant sought medical help in an attempt to understand why he behaved as he had, said Marion Weir, defending. What happened was out of character.

As a result of the attack, MacLaurin lost his job at Sellafield.

Judge Michael Fanning noted the defendant had been to court on three occasions since 2021, having previously been prosecuted for the common assault and a malicious communications offence.

The assault was “entirely unprovoked,” said the judge, accepting that MacLaurin ‘s behaviour that day was out of character – so much so that the defendant underwent medical investigations to see if he had suffered a stroke.

The judge said: “You say you have no recollection of going out in St Bees before waking up in the police station… As direct consequence of you attacking him was to cause a very significant deterioration in his mental health.”

Character references spoke of the defendant as a “hard-working, intelligent man”. The judge told MacLaurin: “Your conduct really is inexplicable; there was no bad feeling between you and your neighbour.”

The judge concluded that MacLaurin, of The Ferns, Egremont, does not pose a risk to the public.

He imposed an eight-month jail term suspended for a year for the actual bodily harm assault and a concurrent six months term for the offensive weapon offence. MacLaurin must pay the victim £500 in compensation.