'Festering' resentment between Northampton neighbours ended in man breaking into home armed with knife

A bizarre string of events in a Northampton neighbourhood went from two men cleaning up broken glass together to a violent break in with threats to stab a family.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 1:02 pm

A "festering" resentment between two Northampton neighbours ended with a man breaking into a house threatening to stab and kill the family inside.

The frightening confrontation in December last year began with Chris Gibson, 45, offering to help his neighbour in Severn Drive clean up some broken glass.

Two hours later, Gibson broke into the same man's house armed with a knife and threatened to kill him.

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Chris Gibson burst into his neighbour's home in Severn Drive armed with a knife.
Chris Gibson burst into his neighbour's home in Severn Drive armed with a knife.

The bizarre string of events was labelled by a judge at Northampton Crown Court yesterday (April 15) as the end result of a "festering" resentment between the two households that had gone on for years.

His Honour Judge Rupert Mayo said: "All I can speculate is that something then flipped in your mind. It could be an accumulation of all sorts of factors. I don't know. But it must have been period of resentment that had built for a number of years."

The incident began at 2.30am on December 23 when a family living on Severn Drive were woken by the sounds of their car windows being smashed.

The random act of vandalism was reportedly committed by a stranger who was never found.

But when the father of the household stepped outside to inspect the damage, Chris Gibson also came out and offered to help clear away the broken glass.

Prosecutor Mr Stephen Donnelly told the court: "It was apparent he was extremely drunk.

"The two men cleared the glass away, shook hands, and went home."

However, the court heard that during the course of this otherwise good-naturedly exchange, the neighbour reportedly made a passing comment about Gibson's mother.

The court briefly heard how a terse relationship had developed between the two households, with confrontations rising over topics such as a tree in Gibson's back garden and in relation to Gibson's mother.

Mr Donnelly said: "[The victim] later in his police interview confirmed he had known the defendant as a neighbour for 20 years. There had been 'neighbourly issues' but nothing near the gravity of the incident that day."

Two hours later, Gibson broke into the neighbour's house in a drunken rage.

Mr Connelly said: "The defendant forced open that front door of the victim's house and entered carrying a knife.

"He made several threats to harm him, his wife and his son, threatening to stab and kill them."

In the chaotic minutes that followed, Gibson struck at the man with the knife and caused a cut to his thumb.

The son of the household was able to restrain the 45-year-old and eject him from the house. But outside, Gibson continued his threats while banging on the door and stabbing it with the knife. He also scratched into the family's car with the blade.

The court heard how when police arrived, officers tasered Gibson in order to arrest him from his house.

He later told officers he had been drinking since 2pm that day and was extremely intoxicated during the events. He answered no comment when shown CCTV of the offending.

He later pleaded guilty to making threats to kill, possessing an offensive weapon and causing actual bodily harm.

In court, Gibson's defence barrister remarked his client was "a likeable individual" who "deeply regrets" the incident and the impact it had had on his family.

In sentencing, Judge Mayo said: "It appears to me there was brewing resentment between your families.

"You took the very foolish decision to take a knife and make threats towards that family.

"I'm sure you must agree it was a terrifying incident that you now regret."

Gibson was jailed for three years and nine months for the attack. He has also been handed a restraining order preventing him from going near the home of his former neighbours.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly name Christopher Gibson as "Gibbons". This has been corrected.