A farmer who used a tractor to flip a car parked on his land has defended his actions by saying “an Englishman’s home is his castle”, a court heard.
Fourth generation farmer Robert Hooper, 57, is charged with dangerous driving and criminal damage over the incident which took place at Brockersgill Farm, Newbiggin-in-Teesdale last June.
The defendant, who denies the charges, told Durham Crown Court this week that he removed the silver Vauxhall Corsa from his driveway in self-defence, as he “felt threatened” by the vehicle’s driver and his friend.
The 57-year-old from County Durham said he politely asked the Corsa driver Elliott Johnson and his friend, Connor Burns, to move the car, which had suffered punctures. This request was refused, he added.
The farmer, who has no previous convictions, also claimed Mr Burns punched him while he was in his farm buggy.
"My mind was racing,” Hooper told the jury.
"I thought: ‘We have a bit of a problem here, there’s two of them, half my age,’ I didn’t know what they had in terms of weapons, or what they were capable of doing.
"I thought if the car was off the property, that would be then off the property, out of the way."
He then headed back to his farm, put forks into his yellow loader and drove back to the Corsa, which he upended.
In mobile phone footage seen by the jury, Hooper is shown overturning the car, before pushing it onto the adjoining road.
"I felt threatened and an Englishman’s home is his castle, and my castle starts at that front gate,” he said in defence of his actions.
When asked by the prosecution why he did not call the police instead, Hooper said he had not received “the best response” from his local force after reporting eight break-ins in recent years.
The court heard on Tuesday that Mr Burns, 21, had drunk six Corona beers before the incident. He told the jurors he was not “aggressive” and “confrontational”, allegations levelled at him by the defence team.
Mr Burns was hit by the rails of Hooper’s tractor as he tried to confront him. He said he suffered a back injury as a result, a claim disputed by the defence.
The trial continues.
Additional reporting by PA