A “NIGHTMARE neighbour” who stormed into a gran’s house and attacked her in a row about a four-year-old’s water pistol has been spared jail.

Marina Bolton, 57, of Newington Avenue, Southend, admitted assault and criminal damage after leaving victim Jo Bates with a number of nasty bruises to her face and body.

Mrs Bates, 50, a nurse and charity worker who runs the Southend Homeless Hub, told how the attack took place on April 9 in front of grandsons Matthew, four, and Bradley, seven.

She said there was bad blood between the pair because Bolton had planted “huge” eucalyptus trees in her garden and allowed her Great Dane to damage the fence. She also said Bolton’s CCTV cameras point into her garden.

She said: “When I moved in 12 years ago there were no problems but she has turned into a nightmare neighbour.

“I had my grandchildren here so I went to the shops and bought the boys some water pistols. I put some music on and they were playing in the garden.

“Matthew decided to water the roses and some of the water went over the fence. He is only four years old. There was just the most horrendous shouting and screaming.

“The next thing I knew she was in my house. I was kicked and punched for ten minutes.

“I managed to get to the phone and dial 999. I couldn’t speak to the operator but they heard the tail end of the assault.”

Mrs Bates said Matthew and Bradley are still traumatised by the incident.

She said: “They are not used to seeing violence. Their parents don’t even shout at them, they will sit down and talk. So it was very distressing for them.

“Bradley still can’t be left on his own.”

Bolton admitted assault by beating and causing £550 of damage to a wooden side gate, a speaker and an internal door.

She was handed a four-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, at Southend Magistrates’ Court.

Bolton was also told to pay £1,220 compensation.

Magistrates said the incident was a “sustained assault” and the forced entry showed “pre-meditation”.

In mitigation, Bolton, a self-employed cleaner, argued that she had poor mental health and was provoked by the child’s use of the water pistol.

Speaking after the hearing, she said Mrs Bates was the problem neighbour and a “green-eyed monster”.

She said: “I have nice cars and I have spent a lot of money on my house. She just wants her pound of flesh.

“At the end of the day I was in her house and I pleaded guilty. All she sustained were some bruises.”

Bolton said the bad blood started because of a row over Mrs Bates’ guttering and denied that her cameras point into the garden.

She said Mrs Bates’ own CCTV cameras point into her garden. “The water being squirted over the fence was the final straw,” she said.

Bolton added that her Great Dane only damaged the fence because it was “provoked” by Mrs Bates’ dog.

Mrs Bates said her cameras do not point into Bolton’s garden, only onto the boundary. Both women accused the other of antisocial behaviour and both denied it.