mill lane
The attempted robbery and the shooting of the burglar happened at Kenneth Hugill's farm in Wilberfoss, East Yorkshire. Google maps

An 83-year-old farmer who shot a suspected burglar on his property has been found not guilty of grievous bodily harm.

Kenneth Hugill, of Wilberfoss, near York, shot Richard Stables in the foot in the early hours of 13 November 2015.

The pensioner said he did not meant to harm Stables and had merely fired his weapon to scare off intruders he thought were attempting to steal diesel fuel from his farm.

On Friday (10 March) Hull Crown Court heard how Hugill was woken up at 2am by lights outside his property. He told the court that he saw a car drive past his farmhouse.

Hugill said that he thought the car's occupants were "up to no good".

"The next thing was a slight silhouette of a vehicle going past the farmyard entrance," he said, according to Sky News. "The vehicle did not have its lights on."

Hugill went outside but was "petrified" when he heard the sound of an engine revving. He feared that a vehicle was being driven towards him in the dark.

"I pulled the trigger because I thought that car was going to kill me," he told jurors during the three-day trial.

Hugill added that he had fired at the ground and did not intend to injure anyone. He followed this with a warning shot into the air and told jurors that he did not realise anyone had been hit by the bullets.

Stables, who was hit in the foot, denied attempting to steal diesel and said he had been out hunting with a friend when he accidentally stumbled on the farm in Mill Lane.

The jury deliberated for just 24 minutes before finding Hugill, who uses a hearing aid and a walking stick, not guilty.

Hugill criticised the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for bringing the case. The CPS maintained that its action was in the public interest.

Looking for hostages

Sir Roger Hale, MP for North Thanet, told the Daily Telegraph that the case was an example of the prosecution service 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 breaking into other people's homes cause fear and misery.

"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."

David Hugill, the son of the defendant, said the farm had been targeted by poachers and diesel thieves in the past.

He criticised the response of Humberside Police. Armed and forensic officers, a helicopter and an ambulance turned up at the farm at 5pm the following day "looking for hostages" then took his father in and kept him in a cell for three to four hours, he claimed.