ALDERHOLT, Eng. — John Bennett, a practicing witch, was assaulted by two of his neighbours in Hillbury Park, the residential semi-retirement community in which all three reside, on November 4th 2017. Anne Denyer, 52, attacked him with an umbrella and Mark Denyer, 56, stabbed him with a kitchen knife. The case just went to court, and the Denyers were charged with suspended sentences and community service. The Wild Hunt spoke to Bennett, aka ‘Bearheart,’ and his partner Samantha Hathaway about the ordeal.Bennett said that the assault happened on the night before Bonfire Night (5th November) about 8 p.m. There was a full moon and, normally Bennett and Hathaway go out to the forest in Hampshire or Dorset to join celebrations with other groups or do things on their own. However, on this occasion they were unable to leave their dog because it reacts poorly to fireworks, Bennett said. They made the decision to stay and sit in their garden.
The couple states that they had never undertaken drumming in the garden before and were watching the fireworks while the dog remained indoors. They are reportedly about 60 yards away from the neighbours to the back and can see the fence and backdoor from their own back garden.
Bennett said that they had a shamanic drum each and were reciting a full moon poem. They had just started drumming, but quietly as they were seated next to each other, they said, adding that the fireworks were louder than the drumming. They had been drumming for 2-3 minutes, they recalled, when the Denyers appeared from the back of their property and started shouting: ‘I don’t want to listen to that bloody racket all night,’ plus some swearing.
Hathaway said ‘We didn’t want any confrontation’, so they packed up and went indoors as ‘it was not worth the hassle.’ They had not reached the kitchen door when the Denyers approached the house and continued to swear, she said. The man next door is 94 and in a wheelchair and a woman in her 80s lives opposite, so Bennett went out to ask the Denyers to be quiet.
“As soon as I opened the gate she whacked me over the head with a golfing umbrella and he rushed me and stuck a 10 inch kitchen knife in my belly. There was blood pumping out of my stomach,” Bennett said.
After being stabbed, Bennett recalled going into :fight or flight mode, and wrestled Denyer to the ground to get the knife off him,” while Denyer’s wife kept hitting him on the head with the umbrella. John was bleeding heavily from the stab wound and a head wound caused by the umbrella, so by this time was unable to see.
Mr. Denyer fled from the scene and the police helicopter was called out. He was later apprehended. He hid the knife, which the police subsequently found.
As for Bennett, he was taken to hospital in Salisbury, where he was operated on and remained for two nights. He said that the surgeons told him that it was his weight that had saved his life as the knife grazed the internal muscles but did not touch his liver, which the surgeon said it would have done had Bennett been of a lighter build. He has since lost three stone.
Hathaway said of her neighbours: “We’d never spoken to them before.”
The Denyers had complained to the park management about “funny smells and sounds,” the dog barking, and the couple’s use of their own hot tub. Bennett stated that they do not have big parties in the back garden as they are solitary practitioners. This is contrary to what was being wrongly reported by British mainstream media, which stated that Bennett and Hathaway were members of the Druid group Clan of the Pheryllt. Members of the group and the couple both confirm that they are known to the community but not members.
Bennett told The Wild Hunt “we keep ourselves to ourselves.”
He said hey had never had any complaints and no-one had directly approached them about anything via the committee on the residential park before the assault. Hathaway commented that prior to this incident, “it was a little haven for us, a peaceful place.”
According to case, Mr. Denyer had reportedly not been in trouble with the police before, and he claimed that the episode was “an accident.”
Judge Jonathan Fuller, speaking at the trial at Bournemouth Crown Court, said:
You, Mrs Denyer complained to your husband about the noise coming from Mr Bennett’s garden. He was performing a full moon ceremony, which Pagans are inclined to do once a month and involves incantations and rhythmic beating of drums.
You Mrs Denyer set about him with your umbrella, striking him to his head.
This resulted in two lacerations that caused immediate bleeding. He did no more than push you to one side – it would be understandable if it was with some degree of force.
Within moments you Mr Denyer were also involved. You punched out towards him in the stomach area thereby causing the wound to the abdomen.
However, Judge Fuller did accept the defendants’ claim that neither of the Denyers had intended to do serious harm to their neighbour. He sentenced Mr Denyer to 10 months in prison, suspended for a year, and 130 hours of unpaid work and sentenced Mrs Denyer to a six month suspended sentence with 100 hours of unpaid work.
Hathaway told The Wild Hunt that the Denyers had, before the incident, had fights in which they threatened one another, but neither she nor Bennett complained or reported what they heard. They believe in keeping themselves to themselves, she explained.
Hathaway added, “We believe in karma and we think that they will get back what they have given out.”
“I personally feel completely let down by the judicial system and discriminated against for my beliefs,” said Bennett. “I do not feel safe in my own home any more and I do not feel protected by the police.”
However, according to the Police Pagan Association, the episode does not count as a hate crime because their religion was not brought up directly.
Bennett and Hathaway are receiving support and legal advice via the Pagan Federation, and are planning to move from Hillbury Park, and so are the Denyers.