Thursday, December 03, 2015

More brilliant British police work

Farmer spends £15,000 and 12 months trying to prove he actually owns four sheep after being arrested and accused of stealing them on national television

A farmer has spent £15,000 on legal costs in a year-long case to prove four sheep he was accused of stealing actually belong to him.

The case against Ross Hutchinson, who runs Bayles Farm in Egglestone, County Durham, was thrown out of Durham Crown Court last week after his defence team produced DNA evidence which confirmed the sheep were his own.

He was arrested in front of TV cameras filming BBC programme Countryside 999 last year, with his arrest aired on national television earlier this year.

Mr Hutchinson said: 'I have spent £15,000 on legal costs that I won't get back. 'It has been more than a year of my life.

'A lot of people won't speak to me now because they think I have stolen these sheep.

'Someone said to me in the pub they had seen me being arrested on the television.'

Mr Hutchinson's solicitor Simon Catterall, of Jacksons in Middlesbrough, said it was believed police were 'seriously distracted' by the filming for the television show at the time.

He said he believed police should have carried out the DNA tests before charging Mr Hutchinson.

Mr Catterall said: 'Certainly, if as much attention was given to the evidence as to the cameras the case would have folded a long time ago.

'The DNA testing proves that these sheep were Mr Hutchinson's all along. The case should never have reached court.'

The sheep had Mr Hutchinson's woolmarks on them, but he believes the ear tags had been swapped before he was accused of theft.

Mr Hutchinson said he is considering taking legal action against the police.

He has also lodged a formal complaint against Durham Police for the way they arrested his elderly father, pulling his car over in front of cameras in Barnard Castle, County Durham, before handcuffing him and taking him to Darlington police station, where he spent five hours.

He said: 'My father was driving back from shopping with my mother and just near Glaxo in Barnard Castle he was pulled over by two police vans, and four police officers, arrested and handcuffed in front of television crews.  'He spent five hours at the police station without his medication. He has a heart condition. 'It was disgraceful, over the top, and heavy handed.'

Mr Hutchinson's father was released after he explained his son ran the farm, which has been farmed by their family for more than 100 years.

He said: 'I think the police were more concerned about their TV career than their police work.

'They said someone had made an allegation against us. It wasn't until we got the DNA evidence, which proved I owned the stolen sheep, that it was over.'

At Durham Crown Court last week a formal not guilty verdict was recorded by the judge after the prosecution said they could offer no evidence, after defence solicitors produced the DNA data.

A spokeswoman for Durham Police could not comment on the sheep case yesterday, but said in relation to the complaint received about the treatment of Mr Hutchinson's father: 'We did receive a related complaint in September 2014 in relation to a sheep theft investigation.

'The complaint was resolved with words of advice given to the relevant members of staff.'

Original report here

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