A RESIDENT who was shot by his neighbour after a dispute is asking why he was never told he lived next door to a man who beat his mother to death.

Sean Luby was involved in a series of neighbourhood disputes before he was shot by Brian Acott and only afterwards did he find out the 71-year-old was convicted in 1995 of killing his mother by smashing her head against a radiator and given a life sentence.

After being released on licence Acott managed to get hold of a semi-automatic pistol and shot his 61-year-old neighbour during a row in Fittleworth, near Pulborough.

Mr Luby said he is likely to suffer lasting health problems as a result of the shooting - sparked by a series of neighbourhood disputes in the leafy Sussex village on the edge of the South Downs.

Mr Luby said he had complained about his nuisance neighbour in Fairmead Close to Hyde housing association but no one warned him of Acott's violent past.

An investigation into how brutal murderer Acott was able to get hold of a gun and shoot his neighbour and why he was released after serving no more than ten years of his life sentence was yesterday launched.

Speaking exclusively to The Argus yesterday Mr Luby said: "He was a nasty inconsiderate drunk old man, but I didn't know until all this happened that he murdered his own mother.

"I am angry that he was allowed to get out of prison and do this.

"But I'm even more angry that the housing association and the probation service didn't do anything about it.

"I complained to them so many times about this man's behaviour.

"I just hope that he has to stay in jail and serve the rest of his life sentence."

Mr Luby said that the last time the housing association had intervened a probation officer had visited Acott's home - suggesting the authorities dealing with their disputes was aware of Acott's criminal background.

Mr Luby said he was angry that no one had warned him of Acott's violent history.

He said: "He has been causing problems the whole time since he had live here.

"The last time the housing association got involved they came round with the guy who deals with antisocial behaviour, the estate manger and a probation officer.

"They knew what he was.

"Someone should have done something.

"Someone should have had some sort of duty of care for me."

Mr Luby said he would never get over the incident and would suffer from continuing medical problems in his leg for the rest of his life.

Corinne Waterfield, Hyde housing association's head of housing for the south said: “We were asked to provide a home for Mr Acott by the local authority and, under strict rules, Hyde is not allowed to refuse such a nomination. However, as someone released from prison under licence, Mr Acott was under the supervision of the Probation Service. We are aware that there were neighbour disputes between Mr Luby and Mr Acott and we can confirm that Mr Luby did make a report of antisocial behaviour. This was investigated but due to insufficient evidence we were unable to take the matter further. Obviously we were shocked to hear about what happened to Mr Luby but are confident that we acted in an appropriate manner under the circumstances.”       

A spokeswoman for the National Probation Service said: "This was an appalling crime and our thoughts are with the victim and his family.

"Serious further offences such as this are rare but each one is taken extremely seriously and investigated fully.

"A full review into this case is underway. Public protection is our priority and we will carefully consider the findings in this case."

The Ministry of justice did not disclose why Acott had been deemed safe for release or whether any earlier concerns had been raised about his behaviour whilst on licence.

Sussex Police did not confirm whether they had responded to any previous disputes between Acott and his neighbours prior to the shooting.


IN THE sleepy hamlet of Fittleworth – halfway between Petworth and Pulborough – very little happens.

It is a village of chocolate box cottages and immaculate gardens.

Other than Bryan Ferry’s mansion on the outskirts of the village not much is of note.

Which is why Sussex Police’s Detective Inspector Rob Walker said the shooting of Sean Luby by Brian Acott “will no doubt have come as a shock to the local community”.

The shooting was rare – but what the residents of Fittleworth – and Mr Luby in particular did not know was that Acott was no stranger to violence.

Twenty years earlier, Acott killed his own mother in a fit of rage whilst she longed for companionship after the death of his father.

Surveyor Acott had lost his job and his marriage had broken down when he moved back into his mother’s bungalow in Rainham, Kent in 1993.

Previously described as a “model son” Acott left his high-flying career in America to look after his doting 78-year-old mother.

Neighbours described him as “well dressed and neat to the point of obsessiveness”.

In court he said “I adored my mum” but the truth of the man who felt like he was being “treated like a 13-year-old” came to a head with her bloody murder.

His “nagging” mother’s jibes and her use of the nickname “wriggle bottom” pushed him over the edge on February 17, 1993.

He bashed her head against a radiator – kicked and stabbed her to death before washing his hands and rifling through her paperwork in search of a will.

Acott was questioned by police and charged with murder but the case was dismissed by Gravesend magistrates who said there was no case to answer.

Later that year the ruling was overturned by the High Court and he faced a murder trial at Maidstone Crown Court – but after just a single day of deliberations the jury failed to reach a verdict and was discharged.

In 1995 Acott faced a retrial at the Old Bailey and was finally convicted.

Recorder of London Lawrence Verney described it as a “terrible murder” and sentenced him to life behind bars.

But Acott only served 10 years and was on licence for more than a decade after being released – living in relative anonymity in Fittleworth, despite becoming a nuisance for his nearest neighbours.

Despite their concerns about his antisocial behaviour, drinking and language – his neighbours had no reason to suspect he was really a killer.

Sean Luby’s home was divided from Acott’s by just a wall. They had regular falling-outs from the moment Acott moved in.

Probation services should have known where he was living and the housing association that was both men’s landlord should have been aware of his criminal history – but no concerns were ever shared with Mr Luby.

It is not known when Acott got hold of a semi-automatic pistol – but he must have done so illegally – was barred from holding a licence by virtue of his sentence.

And when one particular row with his neighbour boiled to a head he again lost his temper like he had 20 years previously with his mother and shot the neighbour.