A farmer has been cleared of threatening a horse rider and injuring her horse during a row over her riding across land that he had just worked on. 

Stephen William Harrison, 70, was cleared at York Magistrates' on Tuesday (March 26) of all charges after the incident, which took place near the village of Moulton, near Richmond, on September 2, 2022.

During the incident, Mr Harrison was accused of using abusive and threatening words towards Rebecca Jane Hartland and injuring Mrs Hartland's horse, which was valued at £556.

The Northern Echo: The gate near where the incident happenedThe gate near where the incident happened (Image: SUBMIT)

Mr Harrison, a high-profile farmer and major egg producer based at  Scotch Corner, was said to have encountered two women on horseback who were damaging a newly drilled field of wheat, which he considered trespassing during the incident in 2022.

The Northern Echo: A gate next to Mr Harrison's farmA gate next to Mr Harrison's farm (Image: SUBMIT)

Mr Harrison denied using abusive or threatening words or behaviour with intent to cause fear or provoke violence and a separate charge of criminal damage under £5000 on Tuesday.

The court dismissed the case and a 'not guilty' verdict was recorded for Mr Harrison on both counts, saying they were not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he had committed the offences.

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Following the case, Mr Harrison's lawyer, Simon Catterall, from Jacksons Law Firm in Stockton said that Mr Harrison did no more than turn the horses involved around but the riders took exception to being turned away and complained to the police.

Mr Catterall said: "Mr Harrison was only trying to protect a newly drilled field of wheat from trespassing horses. We didn’t expect anything other than a not-guilty verdict. The matter should never have come before the court.

"It sets a precedent about trespassers and the pressures that farmers are under - and it showed that exaggerated information can lead farmers in court - it's dangerous."