County Durham farmer found not guilty of dangerous driving and criminal damage

  • Mobile phone footage of the incident

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.

Robert Hooper, 57, was on trial at Durham Crown Court after he used his tractor to lift a Vauxhall Corsa and drop it on the road outside his property in Newbiggin-in-Teesdale last June.

Passenger Charlie Burns, 21, who had been visiting the area that day and had drunk up to seven bottles of lager, was knocked to the floor by the vehicle's lifting forks.

Karen Henderson, Robert Hooper's partner thanked his legal team and the support that they had from their local community

Hooper, a fourth-generation hill farmer, had told the jury previously that he was punched by Mr Burns, adding: "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 yesterday, Michael Rawlinson, defending, gave the origin of the above saying, referring to judge Sir Edward Coke's comments which set legal precedents in 1604.

Mr Rawlinson also quoted the boxer Mike Tyson, saying, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."

Referring to arguments about how the farmer could have acted differently on the day, the barrister said: "If you are being punched in the face, you cannot do a great deal."

Mr Rawlinson said Hooper had been working hard, "grafting", and was not looking for trouble when the car arrived at his remote property.

In his closing remarks, David Ward, prosecuting, said: "The Crown is not saying he is some kind of nasty thug who goes around the Dales attacking people - he's certainly not.

"But on this occasion, he acted in a way that was utterly irrational."

Judge Ray Singh had outlined routes to verdict for the jury and explained the law surrounding self-defence and a defendant protecting himself and his property.