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Sunday, 21 December 2014

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Sandwith man cleared of assault in neighbour row

A MAN from Sandwith has been cleared of unlawfully assaulting a neighbour in a long-running dispute about access to a piece of land near their homes.

A jury at Carlisle Crown Court took an hour to return a unanimous not guilty verdict on Roy Fowler, 46, who had been charged with causing actual bodily harm, to Keith Allard, who lives near him, in Sandwith.

Mr Fowler, a nuclear train driver who also works part-time as site agent for the Isle of Man company developing the site, admitted punching Mr Allard three times in the face.

But he told the jury he only did it to protect himself when Mr Allard looked like attacking him.

The court heard the trouble flared on September 12 last year, when Mr Fowler was working with contractors to clear the old farm site where outline planning permission had been given for 11 new properties.

The prosecution claimed that he started arguing with 74-year-old farmer Jim Dawson, and then attacked Mr Allard when he went to intervene. But in evidence Mr Fowler said that by the time Mr Allard turned up he had already called the police to deal with Mr Dawson.

“I wanted police assistance,” he said. “I had already been assaulted by Jim Dawson and he needed some sort of restraining to get him off the site.”

Mr Fowler said Mr Allard, who had been standing by a fence 20 yards away, took a swing at him after coming over to him shouting “Come on, hit me”.

Fowler said he fought back because he was faced with two men – Mr Allard and Mr Dawson – with whom he had had trouble in the past.

“We have had harassment in the past,” he said. “I knew he was going to hit me because he has tried to do it in the past.”

Fowler said he punched Mr Allard three or four times, and was punched by him at least twice.

The two men ended up on the ground, he said, with Mr Dawson pulling him away as he knelt on Mr Allard. Mr Dawson then stamped on his hand, he said, leaving a “massive swelling” and two broken bones which later had to be mended with metal pins.

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