A FARMER has been cleared of allowing livestock to stray onto country lanes, causing a danger, and onto neighbour’s private land, causing damage.

John Dewi Floyd, 53, had been charged with breaching a community protection notice – which has since expired – at his farm at Foel Las, Eryrys Road, Mynydd Du, near Mold, between October and November.

But at Flintshire Magistrates Court he was found not guilty and his costs were paid from central funds.

Magistrates said they wanted to highlight there was clearly long-standing friction between and Floyd and some neighbours.

It came down to a question of whether they were dealing with a cavalier farmer, thoughtless and inconsiderate to his neighbours, who let his stock roam free – or whether there was a lack of tolerance by members of the rural community who wanted all the joys of country life on their own terms and had little understanding of the needs of a working farm.

Prosecutor Sheyanne Lee alleged four incidents – cattle loose on the lane outside the farm, sheep jumping into the road in the snow, his sheep on a neighbour’s field and lane, and his sheep in another neighbour’s field.

But chairman Terry Eastham said the bench had concluded there was no proof of ownership of the animals.

Magistrates said company director Tim Holt, who lived in a large gated country house nearby, was clearly concerned about stock moving around his home area.

He had installed extensive CCTV equipment as a result and had produced CCTV footage of cattle movements on October 22 which he claimed were bullocks and a bull roaming freely in the lane outside his gate with no-one supervising them.

Mr Holt also produced mobile phone clips of sheep jumping around in the snow, claiming Floyd had sheep with no markings on them.

His then gardener, Owen Pilson, said he had approached Mr Holt's property to find what he said was a cow and what he thought was a bull coming towards him in the lane.

Mr Pilson said stock in the lane was a regular occurrence.

Susan Cotterill told how she was concerned about cattle coming to her field, garden and lane and said they came back and forth most days. She only suspected that the sheep belonged to Mr Floyd, the magistrates said.

Heather Kirby said she was concerned with sheep coming over her wall and she presumed they belonged to Mr Floyd.

She accepted there were stray sheep in the area, which was also confirmed by a council animal welfare officer.

The upkeep of her boundary wall was her responsibility, magistrates said.

Mr Floyd had been consistent that the cattle had been supervised when being moved from the field to the farm and said the sheep that caused his neighbour’s aggravation did not belong to him.

His brother-in-law Mark Williams, described as a totally convincing witness, confirmed he had been at the farm the day the cattle were moved safely along the road. He was one of four people involved in that process Winston Roberts told how he saw Mr Floyd move the cattle that day. He lived nearby for three years and had not been troubled by free roaming stock.

In evidence, Mr Holt told how he and his family loved living in the countryside but felt like prisoners in their own home because of the livestock straying in the roads.

He said it happened all the time and said his children could not cycle in the lanes because of the danger. “They fear being trampled by cows,” he said. “It happens every week. I just want it to stop.”

Mr Holt said that morning he was monitoring the CCTV and saw the cattle in the lane which he said were not supervised. He later saw Mr Floyd driving them back in his car.

Barrister Will Hingston, defending, said the footage confirmed Mr Floyd was driving behind the cows in his car, herding them along. They had been supervised by four people.

He said farmers needed to move their animals along public highways on occasions as part of the ordinary farming business, but that did not seem to be appreciated by all of his neighbours.

There was no danger on the highway and no evidence that damage to private property, he said.

“On the one side we have a farmer of limited means, born and bred in the area whose livelihood comes from the land.

"On the other side of the fence, so to speak , there is Mr Holt, a company director with motion sensitive CCTV living in a rather grand house behind large gates.

“They are very different characters and they lead very different ways of life,” he told the Mold court.

Mr Floyd was adamant that the cattle were under control at all times with him walking behind them one way driving behind them the other way– assisted by three others.

It was his case that the sheep were not his and there was no evidence that they were. His were properly identified with a black mark.

Other sheep did stray in the area and he had reported one such incident to the authorities recently.

A conviction would have devastating consequences for Mr Floyd, his elderly parents and for the rural way of life, Mr Hingston claimed.