A have-a-go hero farmer prevented a theft on his farm after he confronted a crook by ramming his car with his Land Rover.
The Norfolk farmer was alerted after a security alarm was triggered at his compound in Cockley Cley, near Swaffam.
Norwich Crown Court heard on Tuesday (16 June) that at first the farmer thought wind and rain were responsible for the setting off the alarm.
But when he went to check, he caught thief Tony Smith, 52, sniffing around his farm.
The farmer saw a car being driven down the track towards him by Mr Smith, said prosecutor Lori Tucker.
“[The farmer] then followed that car,” Ms Tucker told the court. “He could see that the number plates had been covered with black plastic.
“He decided they were up to no good so to try to stop the car he rammed it with his Land Rover.”
The Peugeot car got stuck in the mud, and Mr Smith got out and smashed the window of the Land Rover with a wrench, Ms Tucker said.
A scuffle ensued in which Mr Smith hit the farmer with the wrench, threatened to kill him and to stab him with a screwdriver.
The farmer saw that there were drums of diesel in the back of the car and saw Mr Smith throw a laser, worth around £2,500 and used for surveying, from the vehicle.
Mr Smith fled after the farmer’s wife rang 999 and was later arrested. The incident happened in February 2014.
Mr Smith, of Beck Row, Mildenhall, admitted common assault and stealing diesel and a laser, reported the Eastern Daily Press.
John Farmer, mitigating, said that Mr Smith worked as a landscape gardener, pleaded guilty on the first day of trial and led “quite an honest, decent and thoughtful life”.
“Asked why he did it, he said he didn’t know but he deserved a thrashing,” said Mr Farmer.
“In a peculiar way, that’s what he nearly got as the vehicle pushed him for 1,000m.”
Judge Katherine Moore, sentencing, said Mr Smith stole from “vulnerable, remote” premises and when challenged “with some vigour” by the owner of those premises he responded with violence.
“It was an extremely unpleasant incident, aggravated by the fact you have a long history of offending,” the judge told him.
Mr Smith was sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for 18 months, 200 hours unpaid work and ordered to stay away from the victim’s address in Oxborough, around four miles from Cockley Cley, for the duration of the 12-month community order.