A farmer who caused catastrophic injuries to a suspected metal thief he pursued across fields in a 4x4, has been cleared by a jury after he told how he has suffered from criminals targeting his property.
Dennis Tindale, 78, of Marton, admitted to a jury at Lincoln Crown Court that he collided with Michael Lewis, 67, fled on foot after being spotted eyeing up farmyard scrap metal.
But Mr Tindale said that what happened was a pure accident after Mr Lewis ran towards his vehicle.
He said he could not avoid the collision which has left Mr Lewis, from Gainsborough, a quadriplegic and unable to look after himself.
The incident occurred when Mr Lewis was with his nephew Lee Pitchford and another man, Lance Sewell, at Mr Tindale’s farm in Marton.
Mr Tindale told the jury “I couldn’t avoid a collision. He was still running towards me when he hit the vehicle.”
“I was travelling at no more than 10 to 12 mph. I’d no need to go any faster. I was catching them up. I was only in first gear.”
“There was nothing malicious about it. I didn’t intend to strike Mr Lewis at all.
“It was a pure accident. I’m still puzzled as to why he didn’t step out of the way.”
He said he gave chase after his wife complained of being threatened by the three men and when the trio ran he attempted to cut off Mr Lewis’ escape route.
Mr Tindale said that just 16 days earlier the caravan home he shared with his wife was hit by burglars who took a computer, a mobile phone, a purse and credit cards.
“They left behind a four foot stave they had brought it to attack me with,” he said.
From the witness box he told how he had reported nine incidents to police between 2010 and 2013 and further incidents were reported by his wife and by the farmers either side of him.
Jonathon Dee, prosecuting, had earlier told the jury “Mr Tindale went for them. He struck one of them.”
“It is an indication of what his intention was that he drove straight through a barbed wire fence in his eagerness to get to them.”
Tindale denied inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent and the jury of seven women and five men took less than two hours to return a not guilty verdict.