THE joint owner of a Lymm garden centre has been given a restraining order after attacking his business partner and the centre’s manager during a ‘psychotic episode’.

Peter Wilkinson, of Grange Lane, Northwich, has since been diagnosed with a bi-polar mental health problem after threatening to kill two colleagues at the Willow Pool Garden Centre, on Burford Lane.

The 66-year-old was ordered to stay away from his business after the two victims feared repeat attacks.

Martin McRobb, prosecuting at Warrington Crown Court, said in June last year Wilkinson caused manager Diane Caramen considerable anxiety and stress after threatening her and driving her at speed in his car for 10 minutes.

Mr McRobb added: “Staff noticed increasingly erratic and frightening behaviour from the defendant before he made aggressive demands for money from the till.

“He grabbed his business partner, Mr Brunsfeld, by the throat and began to choke him before attempting to push a stone statue on him.”

The court heard on Monday that the business partners had known each other for 43 years but relations had deteriorated over money.

Simon Parry, defending, said that his client’s condition was now being controlled by medication.

Judge Nicholas Woodward said he thought the case would never have come to court if Wilkinson had not fallen ill.

He added: “You would normally face an immediate custodial sentence despite your age and good character. However, it’s absolutely clear your behaviour was brought about as the result of becoming extremely ill.

“You had concerns and went to see your GP early but the potential warning signs were not picked up.

“Your culpability was seriously reduced as I don’t think you have a perception of how you were acting.”