Campaign to pay for cleared farmer’s legal bill

Kenneth Hugill and his wife Sheila

Kenneth Hugill and his wife Sheila

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Thousands of pounds have been raised to help pay for a 83-year-old Wilberfoss farmer’s legal fees after he was cleared of shooting a convicted burglar.

A jury at Hull Crown Court took just 24 minutes to clear Kenneth Hugill of inflicting grievous bodily harm by shooting the man in the foot. Now a leading solicitor has set up a just giving page in a bid to raise the £30,000 to pay for Mr Hugill’s legal fees.

Nick Freeman set up the fundraising campaign

Nick Freeman set up the fundraising campaign

Mr Hugill’s son, David, 50, said: “It hits us very, very hard with being farmers; we don’t have much money and it’s money we’ll have to borrow to pay back over 20 or 30 years.”

Solicitor Nick Freeman called it a “disgrace” that Mr Hugill would not be recompensed. Mr Freeman, known for defending wealthy clients on motoring matters, said he said up the page because this “is not justice”.

So far more than £13,000 has been donated to the page by more than 500 supporters. Mr Freeman, who does not know or represent Mr Hugill, added: “I’m sure there are plenty of people who felt as equally incensed as I did after reading about the case, and will be happy to spare a few pounds in helping this hard-working family in their hour of financial need.”

Another fund was set up by David Towers and he has now transferred the £485 raised to Mr Freeman’s page. He said: “Thank you everyone for supporting this campaign, it’s fantastic to see so many people getting together to see Kenneth Huggill’s legal costs are paid.”

Richard Stables

Richard Stables

The three-day trial heard that Mr Hugill went outside after he saw a vehicle on his farm on Mill Lane, Wilberfoss, in the early hours of November 13 2015.

He told the jury he was “petrified” when he heard the vehicle’s engine revving and thought it was being driven towards him.

The court heard he used a shotgun to shoot once down the side of the vehicle and once into the air in a bid to frighten the occupants away. He said he did not intend to injure anyone and was not aware anyone had been hit.

The injured man, Richard Stables, attended hospital the same day with a gunshot wound to his foot. He gave three different accounts of how he received his injury before saying he was shot by a farmer. When interviewed by police, Mr Stables said he had been lamping with a friend but denied poaching.

He said they stopped at Mr Hugill’s farm to let the dog out. He claims he will never walk again after the incident.

The jury heard Stables, from Bradford, and his driver Adrian Barron, of Oldham, both had convictions for burglary among other offences.

The 83-year-old and his family welcomed the verdict but criticised the decision to prosecute and the police’s response to the incident.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Hugill said: “I’m very, very pleased. It’s marvellous. We thought I shouldn’t have been prosecuted right from the start. I pulled the trigger because I thought that car was going to kill me.”

His son David Hugill, said Humberside Police took 15 hours to respond to a call he made at 2.23am to report a suspected diesel theft at his father’s farm.

The trial heard that the farm manager did not mention to police in the call that a shotgun had been fired.

Speaking after the verdict, he said he arrived at the farm at around 5pm that day to find armed police, forensic officers, a helicopter and an ambulance. The father and son were arrested.

He said: “They told us they heard there had been a firearms offence and they were looking for hostages.”