England

Julian Gardner 'crushed to death by farm raid gang'

Julian Gardner
Image caption The court was told Mr Gardner suffered multiple crush injuries at his farm

A businessman was crushed to death when he tried to protect his farm from a gang of burglars who had ransacked his Sussex property, a court has heard.

Julian Gardner, 53, suffered injuries so catastrophic he stood "no chance of survival" during the attack at his farm near Robertsbridge on 11 October 2010, Lewes Crown Court heard.

Jurors were told he was probably crushed between two 4x4 vehicles or one of them and a water bowser.

Six men, from Kent, deny manslaughter.

'Protect his property'

They also face charges of conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

A seventh man is accused of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Christine Laing QC, prosecuting, told jurors Mr Gardner, who was a member of a shooting club, picked up on of his shotguns "to protect his hard-earned property" and it was a decision that cost him his life.

She said it would have been clear to those responsible that he was seriously injured when he was crushed between a recently-bought Jeep Cherokee and his own Land Rover, or one of the vehicles and a water bowser.

The court was told it was not certain which of the six defendants was driving the vehicles when Mr Gardner was killed but it did not matter.

'Unlawfully killed'

Ms Laing added: "The principal events took place just after midnight on October 11, 2010 and in the following hours. The target crime was a car repair workshop at Bush Barn Farm near Robertsbridge.

"In the course of a planned, professional burglary of those premises, we say by the first six defendants, the owner, Julian Gardner, attempted to stop them and was unlawfully killed."

The court was told Mr Gardner had lived at Bush Barn Farm for most of his life and his 92-year-old mother Molly and two lodgers also lived on the land.

"Given the location it was clearly planned well in advance and, we say, was highly organised and carried out by the first six defendants at least so that there was sufficient manpower to move large quantities of items and drive away a number of vehicles that they had planned to steal from the scene," said Ms Laing.

"Using the Jeep that they bought and the Land Rover belonging to Julian Gardner they were interrupted and ran him down, killing him.

"His injuries were so catastrophic that he had no chance of survival."

The court heard one of the gang was "callous enough" to steal the gun Mr Gardner used to confront them, and the vehicles were later found burnt out.

The six men accused of manslaughter and conspiracy to commit burglary and pervert the course of justice are:

  • Terrence Bristow, 41, of Chart Road, Great Chart, Ashford
  • Marcus Bristow, 32, of Mock Lane, Great Chart, Ashford
  • Lee Delay, 23, of Whitegate Close, Tunbridge Wells
  • Christopher Leek, 30, of Pear Tree Close, Cranbrook
  • Paul Dunn, 33, of Fryth Crescent, Cranbrook
  • Oliver Payne, 26, of Sandhurst Road, Tunbridge Wells

Terence Dunn, 57, of Tanyards Estate, Sandhurst, Kent, faces a count of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

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