A senior Southend councillor assaulted his neighbour after someone wrote a threatening “Die” message on his door, a court heard.

Tony Cox, ward councillor for West Shoebury and Southend Council’s member for transport, waste and regulatory services, is accused of assaulting Jamie Waterfield and causing actual bodily harm by busting his lip on May 20 last year.

He has denied the charge.

Opening the case for the prosecution at Basildon Crown Court yesterday, Sarah O’Kane said: “Someone had written on Tony Cox’s door the letters IE after D - his flat number.

“This defendant thought that Jamie Waterfield was responsible and as Mr Waterfield was seeing off his girlfriend that evening Mr Cox asked him if he thought he was funny.”

The prosecution told the court that Mr Cox became angered and despite his wife, Michelle Cox, coming out to calm the situation, Mr Cox punched Mr Waterfield twice in the face, busting his lip and causing reddening of his left cheek.

Mr Cox told police he believed Mr Waterfield was responsible for the graffiti, but said he did not punch him at any stage during the course of the evening.

The court heard Mr Cox told police the only time there had been physical contact was when he pushed Mr Waterfield out of his own flat in defence of himself and his wife.

He claims Mr Waterfield was already injured when the confrontation began.

The court heard from Mr Waterfield’s partner of nine years, Courtney Newman who told the jury Mr Cox had confronted them as she was leaving for a night out before punching Jamie twice in the face.

She said: “It stuck in my mind because of the amount of blood that came out of his lip.”

Defending, Paul Jones said to Miss Newman: “I put it to you that Jamie said to Mr Cox ‘See what’s on your door - that’s what’s going to happen to you and your family but you won’t know when’.”

Miss Newman told the court that this was not true.

The trial, set to last three days, continues