Developer wants to build housing on land at West Musgrave Farm, St Helen Auckland

The Northern Echo: The now demolished farm house at West Musgrave Farm The now demolished farm house at West Musgrave Farm

As one lengthy legal battle involving Raymond and Paul Shepherd comes to an end, another over the potentially lucrative ownership of the family farm continues. STUART ARNOLD reports.

TO local residents West Musgrave Farm, in St Helen Auckland is regarded as nothing more than a blot on the landscape and subject of countless complaints over the foul smelling stench which once regularly drifted from it.

But to Raymond and Paul Shepherd the farm and its 64 acres of land – turned into an illegal landfill site for food, household and construction waste – represents much, much more, potentially millions of pounds.

While criminal proceedings against the 58-year-old and his 56-year-old brother continued their tortuous path at Teesside Crown Court, almost a dozen hearings have been held almost unnoticed in the civil courts in respect of a possession order sought by the duo’s brother Christopher over the farm near Bishop Auckland, County Durham.

Christopher Shepherd, understood to own half of the land, hopes to sell to developer Tindale in order that affordable housing can be built on the site.

It is thought his share of the land could be worth as much as £4m, if sold for housing.

But Paul Shepherd, who lived at West Musgrave until the farmhouse was demolished in September, as it was structurally unsafe, has opposed the application.

He is countering that he has ownership of it in its entirety, as a previous tenant, and has been asked to prove that he was actively farming the land.

Another family member, Joanne Long, is named in the court papers as a second claimant, while Raymond Shepherd is a defendant alongside Paul.

On Wednesday – the day before Raymond and Paul were sentenced at Teesside Crown Court – the pair failed to have the claim struck out and instead the civil proceedings were stayed by a judge sitting at Newcastle County Court.

Should the ownership issue be settled in Christopher Shepherd’s favour, Tindale wants to bring forward an application for full outline planning permission.

A spokesman for the firm, which has also pledged to clean up the contaminated site, admitted it was in a “stalemate situation” at the moment.

As well as the contaminated land, Environment Agency inquiries also revealed an adjoining watercourse at the farm site, Tinsdale Beck, had been polluted with a brown sludge.

Councillor Rob Yorke, who represents St Helen Auckland on Durham County Council, said: “The general consensus from the residents living nearby has been that the farm was a blot on the landscape and the idea of the land now being developed is a utopia to them.”

During their long-running criminal trial – the second involving Raymond in just over a year – the two defendants cut contrasting figures.

Always suited and booted, Raymond, who was jailed for 18 months, appeared to relish the regular court hearings, sometimes representing himself in a belligerent fashion.

As one person who followed the case put it: “He could argue black is white until the cows come home.”

Meanwhile, Paul, who received a suspended jail sentence, would wear scruffy work clothes for his court appearances and often struggled to keep his eyes open during the evidence.

The two brothers’ next step – and the outcome over West Musgrave Farm – will be watched by residents in St Helen Auckland keenly.

Comments (16)

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7:59pm Thu 12 Dec 13

maclaren says...

Surely the farm should be sold and the proceeds used to pay the legal fees of the court case
Surely the farm should be sold and the proceeds used to pay the legal fees of the court case maclaren

8:11pm Thu 12 Dec 13

NO EINSTEIN says...

This seems all very Russian to me.
This seems all very Russian to me. NO EINSTEIN

8:51pm Thu 12 Dec 13

calumannabel says...

maclaren wrote:
Surely the farm should be sold and the proceeds used to pay the legal fees of the court case
The farm doesn't belong to any of those on trial so that's a non starter.
[quote][p][bold]maclaren[/bold] wrote: Surely the farm should be sold and the proceeds used to pay the legal fees of the court case[/p][/quote]The farm doesn't belong to any of those on trial so that's a non starter. calumannabel

10:55pm Thu 12 Dec 13

vauxhall007 says...

To set the record straight. Paul Stuart Shepherd and Raymond Anthony Shepherd NEVER owned the farm, they with their sons Tony Leigh and Richard Jack through their illegal activity destroyed the farm and destroy everything they touch, Paul Stuart and Raymond Anthony parents Raymond (Snr) and Freda Mary Shepherd insisted that Paul and Raymond would NEVER own the farm, due to their repetitive illegal business activities.
Proceeds of Crime Investigators should, immediately obtain an interim freezing order against Raymond Anthony Shepherd and Paul Stuart Shepherd, to seize ALL company vehicles, cars and commercial vehicles, until a POCA asset disclosure application has been completed.
Raymond Anthony Shepherd, the day after his trial finished in November 2013, transferred ownership of a Skip Lorry with an estimated value of between £45,000 - £50,000 in an attempt to put this vehicle beyond reach of the Proceeds of Crime Investigators. The details of this vehicle have been checked and verified, should POC Investigators wish this information.
It has been revealed tonight that Tony Leigh Shepherd has already “struck” a deal and next week he already knows that he will not get a "custodial sentence", how can this be legal, even before the Judge makes his sentencing remarks, I trust the judge is aware of the crime that Tony Leigh has committed and his attitude to complying with the Law, a custodial sentence should reflect this, in an attempt to prove to other similar people involved in this industry that “crime does not pay”.
All vehicles owned by the four Shepherds involved in these proceedings should be seized and sold, and the net sale proceeds should be offset against the HUGH legal aid bill, which the taxpayers will have absorb.

Even yesterday in Newcastle Court, Paul and Anthony dodged the instructions of a court order, which is directed at Paul Shepherd to lodge proof in the court that he is actively farming the land at West Musgrave Farm, the proof required is such as bank statements, official farm records, proof that the business is solvent, farm books confirming livestock records etc.

The remaining livestock on the farm should be seized and the net sale proceeds should also be used to reduce the legal aid bill.
To set the record straight. Paul Stuart Shepherd and Raymond Anthony Shepherd NEVER owned the farm, they with their sons Tony Leigh and Richard Jack through their illegal activity destroyed the farm and destroy everything they touch, Paul Stuart and Raymond Anthony parents Raymond (Snr) and Freda Mary Shepherd insisted that Paul and Raymond would NEVER own the farm, due to their repetitive illegal business activities. Proceeds of Crime Investigators should, immediately obtain an interim freezing order against Raymond Anthony Shepherd and Paul Stuart Shepherd, to seize ALL company vehicles, cars and commercial vehicles, until a POCA asset disclosure application has been completed. Raymond Anthony Shepherd, the day after his trial finished in November 2013, transferred ownership of a Skip Lorry with an estimated value of between £45,000 - £50,000 in an attempt to put this vehicle beyond reach of the Proceeds of Crime Investigators. The details of this vehicle have been checked and verified, should POC Investigators wish this information. It has been revealed tonight that Tony Leigh Shepherd has already “struck” a deal and next week he already knows that he will not get a "custodial sentence", how can this be legal, even before the Judge makes his sentencing remarks, I trust the judge is aware of the crime that Tony Leigh has committed and his attitude to complying with the Law, a custodial sentence should reflect this, in an attempt to prove to other similar people involved in this industry that “crime does not pay”. All vehicles owned by the four Shepherds involved in these proceedings should be seized and sold, and the net sale proceeds should be offset against the HUGH legal aid bill, which the taxpayers will have absorb. Even yesterday in Newcastle Court, Paul and Anthony dodged the instructions of a court order, which is directed at Paul Shepherd to lodge proof in the court that he is actively farming the land at West Musgrave Farm, the proof required is such as bank statements, official farm records, proof that the business is solvent, farm books confirming livestock records etc. The remaining livestock on the farm should be seized and the net sale proceeds should also be used to reduce the legal aid bill. vauxhall007

6:39am Fri 13 Dec 13

Ian James says...

Nowt, but a load of Albert Hill, sheep-shaggin shepherds!! lol.
Nowt, but a load of Albert Hill, sheep-shaggin shepherds!! lol. Ian James

9:21am Fri 13 Dec 13

calumannabel says...

Having a valuable asset and selling it doesn't sit well with obtaining legal aid. I hope the legal aid application had the skip wagon down as an asset.
Having a valuable asset and selling it doesn't sit well with obtaining legal aid. I hope the legal aid application had the skip wagon down as an asset. calumannabel

10:28am Fri 13 Dec 13

stevegg says...

These lot are as dodgy as you can get with hidden assets and the use of smoke and mirror deceipt tactics to avoid paying a penny. It beggars belief that that they got legal aid in the first place racking up a £500k bill at our expense whilst normal people on modest incomes are denied any legal aid.
These lot are as dodgy as you can get with hidden assets and the use of smoke and mirror deceipt tactics to avoid paying a penny. It beggars belief that that they got legal aid in the first place racking up a £500k bill at our expense whilst normal people on modest incomes are denied any legal aid. stevegg

11:50am Fri 13 Dec 13

owen07 says...

Has anybody actually looked into this Tindale developements?
Has anybody actually looked into this Tindale developements? owen07

4:04pm Fri 13 Dec 13

Jackaranda says...

stevegg wrote:
These lot are as dodgy as you can get with hidden assets and the use of smoke and mirror deceipt tactics to avoid paying a penny. It beggars belief that that they got legal aid in the first place racking up a £500k bill at our expense whilst normal people on modest incomes are denied any legal aid.
I agree wholeheartedly, but don't blame the Shepherd's, they're as thick as pigs sh!t. It's the scumbags who represent them who loophole every aspect of they're case.
[quote][p][bold]stevegg[/bold] wrote: These lot are as dodgy as you can get with hidden assets and the use of smoke and mirror deceipt tactics to avoid paying a penny. It beggars belief that that they got legal aid in the first place racking up a £500k bill at our expense whilst normal people on modest incomes are denied any legal aid.[/p][/quote]I agree wholeheartedly, but don't blame the Shepherd's, they're as thick as pigs sh!t. It's the scumbags who represent them who loophole every aspect of they're case. Jackaranda

11:55am Sat 14 Dec 13

vauxhall007 says...

The cows and horses on the farm, should be seized and sold to recoup some of the legal aid money. The money from the sale of 70 plus cows sold recently where has that been hidden.?????? How can these men get legal aid when they have animals which require feeding, lorries, skips, plant and equipement, or have all these been transferred into someone elses name, when the remaining animals are sold who will get that money.???????
The cows and horses on the farm, should be seized and sold to recoup some of the legal aid money. The money from the sale of 70 plus cows sold recently where has that been hidden.?????? How can these men get legal aid when they have animals which require feeding, lorries, skips, plant and equipement, or have all these been transferred into someone elses name, when the remaining animals are sold who will get that money.??????? vauxhall007

3:52pm Sat 14 Dec 13

calumannabel says...

A year ago Paul 'Sheptoe' apparently admitted to setting his house on fire destroying two banjos and a number of Ellie Mae's dresses. What has happened to the arson charge plus the endangering the live of neighbours and firemen by storing acetylene bottles in the living room? What has happened to the various reports of threats to kill that have been made to Bishop Auckland Police- you could see on TV he was thinking of attacking the TV cameraman.
What about the charges of abstracting electricity illegally? The last loose cannon that behaved this way was Raoul Moat and before that Albert Dryden. I've met Albert and he has twice as much sense as this loose cannon. The learned judge would have done society a favour by removing Sheptoe from the community. Maybe the mental health people can do it?
A year ago Paul 'Sheptoe' apparently admitted to setting his house on fire destroying two banjos and a number of Ellie Mae's dresses. What has happened to the arson charge plus the endangering the live of neighbours and firemen by storing acetylene bottles in the living room? What has happened to the various reports of threats to kill that have been made to Bishop Auckland Police- you could see on TV he was thinking of attacking the TV cameraman. What about the charges of abstracting electricity illegally? The last loose cannon that behaved this way was Raoul Moat and before that Albert Dryden. I've met Albert and he has twice as much sense as this loose cannon. The learned judge would have done society a favour by removing Sheptoe from the community. Maybe the mental health people can do it? calumannabel

10:47pm Sat 14 Dec 13

settheworldonfire says...

probably police grasses...
probably police grasses... settheworldonfire

2:18pm Sun 15 Dec 13

lindybop says...

Why should the tax payers have to pay for the shepherd family Huge legal aid bill, they have brought it all on themselves with there dodgy activities. And no doubt they will carry on with the dodgy activities. The legal aid board should take another look at there legal aid application forms. As for tindale development's all they want is to make west musgrave farm a better place than it is now. And I think the residents would agree
Why should the tax payers have to pay for the shepherd family Huge legal aid bill, they have brought it all on themselves with there dodgy activities. And no doubt they will carry on with the dodgy activities. The legal aid board should take another look at there legal aid application forms. As for tindale development's all they want is to make west musgrave farm a better place than it is now. And I think the residents would agree lindybop

8:42pm Mon 16 Dec 13

vauxhall007 says...

You can still book a skip from Albert Hill Skip Hire, telephone number still be answered and told builders skip could be delivered within 2 hours. Terms are CASH Only and UPFRONT. The court trial has not stopped their illegal activity. Paul Shepherd claiming beneifits and still working for his nephew Tony in their yard at Shildon.
You can still book a skip from Albert Hill Skip Hire, telephone number still be answered and told builders skip could be delivered within 2 hours. Terms are CASH Only and UPFRONT. The court trial has not stopped their illegal activity. Paul Shepherd claiming beneifits and still working for his nephew Tony in their yard at Shildon. vauxhall007

7:46pm Fri 20 Dec 13

owen07 says...

So what happened to the one that was sentenced this week?
So what happened to the one that was sentenced this week? owen07

11:16am Sat 21 Dec 13

vauxhall007 says...

owen07 wrote:
So what happened to the one that was sentenced this week?
Anthony Shepherd who is in Holme House Prison at present is trying to get released early on tag, so as he can manage the illegal skip business again, raise the £100,000 fine and then sue Darlington Council. He has transffered vehicles into others names and hidden skip lorries in an attempt to prevent these being seized, sold and the proceeds recovered. Tony Shepherd was to be sentenced Friday 20th Dec 2013, his name never appeared on the Court List, the word on the street is that he has done a private deal???????????
[quote][p][bold]owen07[/bold] wrote: So what happened to the one that was sentenced this week?[/p][/quote]Anthony Shepherd who is in Holme House Prison at present is trying to get released early on tag, so as he can manage the illegal skip business again, raise the £100,000 fine and then sue Darlington Council. He has transffered vehicles into others names and hidden skip lorries in an attempt to prevent these being seized, sold and the proceeds recovered. Tony Shepherd was to be sentenced Friday 20th Dec 2013, his name never appeared on the Court List, the word on the street is that he has done a private deal??????????? vauxhall007

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