Sunday, January 10, 2016

Police reinforcements called to sheep squabble between elderly farmer and his neighbour

Police summoned reinforcements after an elderly farmer and a neighbour nearly half his age became embroiled in a spring morning spat over where a flock of sheep could graze, a court heard. Two officers initially arrived at Wells Farm, Cradley, Herefordshire, and arrested 88-year-old Dennis Johnson and his 49-year-old neighbour Richard Williams, a judge in Birmingham was told.

They then called for back-up and about 30 minutes later another eight officers turned up in four "fast response vehicles", Judge David Grant heard. Meanwhile, the sheep had got through a hole in a fence and wandered off, the judge was told. Detail of the saga, in March 2013, has emerged in a ruling by the judge following a civil court trial centred on a dispute over a boundary. Mr Williams, now 52, claimed that Mr Johnson, now 91, had wrongly released sheep onto his land at Wells Farm early one morning.

He said there had been "unpleasant exchanges" and Mr Johnson had warned "I could get violent". And Mr Williams said his wife Swarni, now 44, had "videoed the incident" on her phone. Mr Johnson had denied harassing either Mr Williams or his wife and had told Judge Grant: "I am 90 years old, and Mr Williams is probably half my age and about twice my size." Judge Grant, who had analysed the dispute at a trial in Birmingham, said footage taken by Mrs Williams showed that "none of the three persons present" was "behaving in a violent or aggressive manner".

Neither Mr Williams nor Mr Johnson had been charged with any criminal offence. The judge said the incident featured a number of complaints Mr Williams had made about Mr Johnson's behaviour. He said Mr Johnson's conduct could at no stage have been classified as "harassment". But he said there had been "instances" where Mr Johnson had been a "nuisance". And concluded that Mr Williams was entitled to a total of £500 "general damages for nuisance".

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