An Englishman’s home is his castle: Farmer who flipped car off land cleared of criminal damage

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Outside the court. Farmer Hooper cleared of all charges. Photocredit: Screengrab from Google news footage.

A County Durham farmer who used a tractor to flip a car off his driveway has been found not guilty of dangerous driving and criminal damage.

Fourth-generation farmer Robert Hooper argued in court that an Englishman’s home is his castle and he had been assaulted before mobile phone footage showed him using his tractor to shift a Vauxhall Corsa from blocking his gate last June.

Mr Hooper’s supporters cheered when the 57-year-old was cleared by a jury of dangerous driving and criminal damage following a four-day trial at Durham Crown Court.

Farmer Hooper’s partner, Kate Henderson said:

“The overwhelming support of the local community and people from afar have kept him going during these last eight months of hell.

“We welcome the jury’s verdict and are thankful for it.”

Videos played in court showed how Mr Hooper used a fork tractor to lift the car from a lane outside his farm in Newbiggin-in-Teesdale, County Durham. The video showed the farmer flipping the car and then pushing it on its side to the side of the road.

The court was told how the car’s passenger, a 21-year-old named Charlie Burns, had drunk up to seven bottles of lager and then punched the farmer when asked for the car to be moved as it was blocking access on what was a busy day on the farm.

Farmer Hooper said Mr Burns in fact punched him twice splitting his lip.

Mr Hopper told the court:

“I thought it was time to get out of there, and I said ‘If you don’t move it, I will’.

“My mind was racing.

“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 them off the property, out of the way.”

“I felt threatened and an Englishman’s home is his castle, and my castle starts at that front gate.”

In his closing speech to the jury, Defence Lawyer Michael Rawlinson, gave the origin of the saying ‘An Englishman’s home is his castle,’ referring to comments made by judge Sir Edward Coke which set legal precedents in 1604.

Referring to arguments about how Mr Hooper could have acted differently that day, Mr Rawlinson also quoted boxer Mike Tyson, saying:

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Mr Hooper, who has no previous convictions, had had a busy day baling silage and had gone back to the farm for his tea, intending to go out again to carry on working later.

Outside court, were a crowd of supporters including farmers from the local areas who welcomed the verdicts cheering when Mr Hooper was cleared of all criminal charges.

One told reporters:

“He is absolutely first-class.

“He is a hard-working man, he will help anyone with anything.

“It’s great to see that the jury has realised this.”

Another said:

“This is the correct result. This is a great day for democracy and common sense.”

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