Couple trapped in car hanging over ‘sheer drop’ after terrifying attack by neighbour armed with hatchet

A terrified Yorkshire couple came under attack from a hatchet-wielding neighbour and ended up being trapped in their car while it was hanging over a terrifying “sheer drop”.

A court heard that as Neil Martin, 51, made threats to kill the couple and swung the small axe at their Range Rover the driver must have lifted his foot off the brake. As the vehicle rolled forwards it smashed through the brick wall at the rear of their garage leaving it perched over the edge.

Prosecutor Philip Standfast said the vehicle ended up in a “precarious position” over the large drop of about 50 to 60 feet. He said the couple spent over an hour in car before being released by the emergency services.

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The drama began on July 1, 2021, when the couple returned to their Halifax home at about 11.30am and Martin came running over to their garage as they parked up. The driver was struck on the head through the open window with the hatchet and his partner, who was sat in the rear, started screaming.

Martin continued to strike blows with hatchet in an unsuccessful attempt to break the rear driver’s window, but he did succeed in smashing the rear window. Mr Standfast described it as a sustained attack with a highly dangerous weapon and in victim impact statements the couple described how the incident had affected them.

Martin, now of Crag Lane, Wheatley, Halifax, pleaded guilty to a charge of wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm in relation to the male complainant and today (Friday, March 3) he was jailed for four years and nine months.

Neil David Martin
(Image: West Yorkshire Police)

Bradford Crown Court heard that he had suffered with mental health issues and he was now genuinely remorseful for his actions that day. His barrister Jayne Beckett said her client wanted to apologise for the pain and distress he had caused and said he genuinely couldn’t explain his actions.

She said something was very wrong with his mental health and his medication wasn’t working, but that couldn’t excuse what he did. Mrs Beckett said it was a desperately sad case and her client now faced being in prison when his parents were both in very poor health.

Sentencing Martin, Judge Colin Burn said it had been in common parlance a manic attack with a fearsome weapon and Martin had deliberately hit his victim on the head with the axe. He said the car had ended up perched in an extremely dangerous position and the couple were unable to get out for well over an hour.

The judge said below them was what could only be described as “a sheer drop” of 50 to 60 feet. It was not until the fire brigade arrived well over an hour later that their ordeal came to an end,” he noted.

“It is clearly going to be etched on their memories forever and not in a good way.”

The judge accepted that Martin was extremely remorseful and had some insight into how terrifying his conduct had been on that day. Judge Burn imposed an indefinite restraining order which bans Martin from contacting or approaching the complainants in the future.


YorkshireLive – Halifax