Couple attacked friends in dispute over sacking

A DISPUTE over disciplinary action at work ended in a middle-aged couple attacking longstanding friends—and their son with a rolling pin, a court heard.

Tony and Donna Bishop fell out with close pals Michael and Joanne Gardiner on the day Mr Gardiner was sacked from his management job.

Bolton Crown Court heard yesterday the two couples had been good friends who used to go on holiday together.

Tony Bishop was an usher at the Gardiners’ wedding and Mr Gardiner, who worked as Northern operations manager for stairlift company Stannah, even managed to get his friend a job with the firm.

But Bob Sastry, prosecuting, said their friendship turned sour on December 15, 2011, when, following a company investigation into missing scrap metal, Mr Gardiner was sacked.

“There was a belief on the Gardiners’ side that Mr Bishop had created problems for him leading to his sacking,” said Mr Sastry.

In the evening Mrs Gardiner repeatedly rang the Bishops’ home in Baxendale Street, Astley Bridge and was abusive to Donna Bishop.

After several phone calls, the Bishops decided to walk to the Gardiners’ nearby house in Primula Street and Tony Bishop armed himself with a rolling pin.

When Mrs Gardiner answered the door, Donna Bishop punched her in the face and lunged forward, the two women ending up scuffling on the floor, the court heard.

Mrs Gardiner’s grown up son, Lee Semark, tried to intervene and Tony Bishop hit him over the head with a rolling pin.

He had to go hospital to have a cut on his head glued.

Tony Bishop has since been made redundant by the company, where Mr Semark still works.

Nigel Booth, defending, said Tony Bishop had not deliberately hit Mr Semark. Rachel Woods, defending Donna Bishop, aged 45, said she was “thoroughly ashamed”.

Tony Bishop pleaded guilty to causing actual bodily harm and possessing an offensive weapon, while his wife admitted assault.

Judge Elliot Knopf described the Bishops’ behaviour as “an act of foolishness.” He added: “It is all the more an act of madness when you note that you have been friends for many years.”

Tony Bishop was ordered to do 150 hours’ unpaid work and pay £250 compensation plus £350 costs. Donna Bishop was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £150 compensation and £100 costs

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