Humberside

Farmer, 83, cleared over shooting man on his land

Kenneth Hugill, leaves court with his wife Image copyright Hull News & Pictures
Image caption Kenneth Hugill said he and his wife Sheila had been woken by a light outside their farmhouse

An 83-year-old farmer who shot a convicted burglar on his land has been cleared of inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Kenneth Hugill, from Wilberfoss, near York, shot Richard Stables injuring him in the foot on 13 November 2015.

Hull Crown Court heard Mr Hugill saw a car drive past his remote farmhouse at around 02:00 GMT which he thought "was up to no good".

Mr Stables, 44, had claimed he had stumbled onto the farm accidentally.

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The three-day trial was told how Mr Hugill was woken by a light at his bedroom window at around 02:00 before he got dressed and went outside, with his shotgun, to investigate.

"I walked across what I thought was the front of a vehicle," he said.

"It revved up loudly and drove towards me. It petrified me. I did not see any people. I heard nothing at all."

Mr Hugill, who uses a walking stick and a hearing aid, said he had fired one shot at the side of the vehicle and another into the air.

He had he said not intended to hurt anyone but merely intended to frighten them off.

The jury took 24 minutes to clear him.

Image copyright Hull News & Pictures
Image caption Mr Stables, who was shot in the foot, denied plans to steal diesel from the farm

Speaking outside the court, Mr Hugill said: "I'm very, very pleased. We thought I shouldn't have been prosecuted right from the start, I didn't feel it was justified at the time.

"I pulled the trigger because I thought that car was going to kill me."

The Crown Prosecution Service has defended its decision to prosecute.

Chief Crown Prosecutor Gerry Wareham said: "We are satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to put the matter before a court and that it was in the public interest to do so."

Mr Hugill's son, David, 50, said Humberside Police took 15 hours to respond to a call he made at 02:23 GMT to report a suspected diesel theft at the farm.

He said the farm had experienced problems with poaching and attempted diesel thefts.

"The police are pushed to the limit and can't cover the countryside, and people have the right to protect their property in the middle of the night when there is no response or back-up," he said.

The court had already heard that Mr Stables, from Bradford, claimed he was out hunting rabbits with a friend, who was driving.

Mr Stables and the driver, Adrian Barron from Oldham, both have convictions for burglary and theft.

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