A LANDOWNER who is accused of murdering a man following a bitter dispute would lose his temper at the ‘flick of a switch’, his neighbours told a jury this week.

Craig Dawson, 41, has been appearing at Sheffield Crown Court charged with murdering 48-year-old Gary Dean, whose battered body was found in a ditch off House Carr Lane, Hood Green, by a passer-by on September 6 last year.

Carol Dawson, Craig’s 71-year-old mother, also denies playing any role in the murder.

A jury was told that Dawson, of Allotts Court, Birdwell, had been involved in spats with neighbours in which he became ‘aggressive, abusive and confrontational’ over what witnesses described as ‘trivial matters’ such as parking on the street.

Gary Askew, a retired detective inspector with South Yorkshire Police, was Dawson’s neighbour and said he had broken up an incident between him and another neighbour, Michael Breeze.

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“There were several incidents,” he told the jury. “We moved to Allotts Court in 2012 and about a year later I overheard Scott using explicit language and threatening a resident on Victoria Crescent, whose garden backed on to Scott’s.

“He became intimidating with me and told me he ‘did not give a f**k’ about my work with the police and invaded my personal space, being about six inches away from my face, and told me we should get ‘ten mates together each and go to the wood to sort things out’.

“This was about building work and I took it as him instigating a fight. It happened again some time after that, this time involving Michael, and this was about parking.

“There was a confrontation between Scott and Michael in the road, which resulted in Scott driving his Land Rover back to his property and getting out. He parked up, strode over and once again said ‘let’s sort it out in the wood’.

“Scott walked towards the wooded area near Allotts Court but I told Michael not to follow him. Five minutes later, Scott returned, and became abusive to Michael and said ‘you’re not so f**king tough now’.

“His temper could be triggered like a flick of a switch.”

Michael’s mother, Julie Yeardley, described Dawson as an ‘aggressive man who goaded her son into fighting him’.

The Dawsons, who owned 27 acres of land, claim that problems with Mr Dean - who was a keen sportsman and was part of local club the Penistone Footpath Runners - began in 2014 but neither party knew each other beforehand.

They say that despite numerous calls to the police over the subsequent years complaining about criminal damage which they allege was caused by Mr Dean, officers failed to take their reports seriously.

Prosecutors say that matters were taken into their own hands and Gary - a creature of habit who would often run on the Dawsons’ land early in the morning - was ambushed at about 7am on the day he died.

The trial continues.