An 83-year-old farmer in the UK wept when he was cleared of Gross Bodily Harm (GBH) of a trespasser.
The UK's Crown Prosecution Service is facing questions over its decision to prosecute an 83-year-old farmer for shooting a trespasser in self defence, after it took a jury just 24 minutes to acquit him.
Breaking down in tears as jurors cleared him of Gross Bodily Harm, Kenneth Hugill criticised the CPS for bringing forward the case against him in the first place.
Speaking outside of Hull Crown Court, Mr Hugill and his family said the case, which put him through 16 months of torment, had been “unjustified” from the outset.
The decision to clear Mr Hugill comes more than a year after he was arrested on his Yorkshire farm for shooting at a vehicle revving it’s engine close to the family home, which resulted in the driver, Richard Stables, receiving medical treatment for a foot wound.
Following the incident, Mr Hugill and his son David, 50, were arrested, as armed police and forensic officers were alleged to have told the family that they were searching the farm for “hostages”.
The pair were then arrested, had DNA and fingerprint samples taken, and were held in custody for several hours.
Mr Stables, who was treated for a gunshot wound, later admitted he been on the property with friends in order to go lamping, a form of night-shooting, but was not charged with an offence.
Commenting on the case, Sir Roger Hale, MP for North Thanet, said it was another example of the CPS treating criminals as though they were the “victims”.
“Given the circumstances, perhaps the CPS will now think twice about doing this again. It’s quite simple: people should have the right to defend their own property,” he said.
“People break into other people’s homes, cause fear and misery, in this case trespassing.
“The jury in this case clearly heard the evidence and thought the old boy was quite right to defend his own property. If you don’t want to come to harm, don’t break into somebody’s else’s home or trespass on their land.
“We need to have a sense of proportion about this. The people who the CPS sometimes like to present as a victim is sometimes the criminal.”
During the three-day trial the court heard how Mr Hugill, who uses a walking stick and hearing aid, had been “petrified” by the ordeal.
Speaking in court, the 83-year-old pensioner said he fired an antiquated shotgun at the vehicle in a bid to stop the intruders from driving towards him, adding that he had never intended to injure anyone.
His son, David Hugill, 50, who was also arrested in the early hours of 13 November 2015, said the case had cost the family £30,000 in legal costs, as he criticised the police for the speed of their initial response to the incident.
"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.
"It hits us very, very hard with us being farmers; we don't have much money and it's money we'll have to borrow to pay back over 20 or 30 years."
Gerry Wareham, Chief Crown Prosecutor, said it had been in the public interest to prosecute Mr Hugill.
"We considered all the evidence in this case extremely carefully, and took full account of the situation Mr Hugill found himself in that evening,” he added.
"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. The jury has now returned their verdict and we respect their decision."