St Lawrence: Farmer thanks our rural engagement officers
Main article content
A farmer has thanked our rural engagement officers for their support after a man was fined for damaging his crops.
“It’s good to know we’ve been able to get a conviction. Farmers have their crops damaged regularly by hare coursers and other people who think it’s fun to drive across our fields.” Simon Cowell, who farms in St Lawrence
At Colchester Magistrates’ Court on 24 February, Simon Milton, 33, of Maple Way, Burnham on Crouch, was ordered to pay a total of £3878 including fines and £1282 compensation to Mr Cowell, and had six points put on his driving licence.
He had admitted criminal damage, failing to stop for police officers and driving without due care and attention following an incident on Mr Cowell’s farm on 2 October last year.
Officers from our Rural Engagement Team had received reports that a 4x4 vehicle was being driven off-road in St Lawrence and had caused damage to farmland.
They attended but Milton failed to stop. However, the vehicle was picked up on ANPR cameras later that day and Milton was arrested near Pitsea by the same rural engagement officers after a short pursuit.
“It’s great that the officers were able to cut this driver off and get close enough to identify his vehicle. I saw the vehicle spinning round and round on my land and I was going across on a quad bike to have a look when I saw blue lights approach from the direction of the road. “The police vehicle stayed on the side of the field, so the officers didn’t damage the crops. “I’m pleased with the court result because it’s a deterrent and the more people who are caught, the better. “The police were brilliant and kept me informed all the way through. “As farmers, we take a pride in our farms and it’s quite upsetting when someone has so little respect for your property. They think they can just make a mess and abuse it but it’s as if someone comes along and sprays graffiti on the front of your house. We take it personally and it’s very dispiriting.” St Lawrence farmer Simon Cowell
Milton caused damage to a crop of Lucerne, also known as alfalfa, which is used for animal feed. Damage from vehicles driving across fields compacts the soil, causing drainage issues, and also damages crops, making them unusable.
“This is a great result from the courts. It shows that we don’t tolerate criminal damage and that people do pay for this type of crime. “This type of incident has a huge impact on farmers. It affects their land and their crop yields, which all costs money and time to fix. “The Rural Engagement Team was set up to engage specifically with our rural communities and we investigate and help to prevent crimes which matter to them. “I would urge anyone who experiences anti-social behaviour or who has information about a crime or criminality, to ring 999 if it’s a crime in progress or, otherwise, to report it online or by ringing 101.” Rural Engagement officer PC Clare Dawson