Car-flip accused County Durham farmer says 'an Englishman's home is his castle'

A County Durham farmer who used a tractor to flip a car parked on his driveway told jurors he felt threatened, and that "an Englishman's home is his castle".

Fourth generation hill farmer Robert Hooper is on trial at Durham Crown Court where he denies dangerous driving and criminal damage following a clash last June.

Mobile phone footage played in court shows the 57-year-old using a yellow tele-handler to lift a silver Vauxhall Corsa from the entrance of Brockersgill Farm in Newbiggin-in-Teesdale, and onto the road outside his property.

The video then shows his vehicle's lifting rails strike 21-year-old Connor Burns, who had been visiting nearby Low Force waterfall with friends.

Hooper, giving evidence on the second day of the trial, said he had previously politely asked Mr Burns and the Corsa driver Elliott Johnson to move the vehicle from his farm entrance on what was a busy day for him.

He told the court he was aware of an "influx" of youths visiting the area that summer, causing anti-social behaviour, drug-taking, littering and damaging walls.

Hooper claimed that Mr Burns told him that he was not moving his car, and also claimed the younger man punched him twice in the farm buggy he was driving, bursting his lip.

The farmer said to the court: "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 felt threatened and an Englishman's home is his castle, and my castle starts at that front gate."

Michael Rawlinson, defending, asked him why he did not call the police. Hooper said there had been eight break-ins at the farm over the years and he had not had "the best response" from the police, who might take an hour to arrive.

The farmer said he again asked Mr Burns to move the car, who then made a "come on" gesture, Hooper said.

After pushing it onto the road, he claimed there was "an onslaught" from Mr Burns, punching him through the window of his vehicle, knocking off his glasses.

He said he "definitely" did not mean to strike Mr Burns with the vehicle's forks.

Jurors were told Hooper was a man of previous good character and has no previous convictions.

The trial continues.