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Criminal Law: Criminal damage row over hedge flattened to 'improve road safety'

A farmer is being prosecuted for criminal damage after he used his mini-digger to flatten his neighbour's hawthorn hedge without any prior warning.

Jeffrey Warren, from Wickford in Essex, is claiming that he flattened the 'prime English hedgerow' for road-safety reasons. The damage could take up to five years to repair and has cost his neighbour, Nicole Ivison-Hatch, £4,900.

Mr Ivison-Hatch used the field to keep horses in and it is now no longer suitable for this purpose as the hedge is too low.

Mr Warren, 44, did not give his neighbour any warning of his intention to flatten the hedge. His repeated 'crushing' reduced the height of the hedge from 15 feet to just three feet.

The prosecutor, Noel Casey, said: "The Crown say that does not amount to good husbandry of trimming, cutting and dressing the hedge.

"This was damage done by Mr Warren in an unusual way - he was not dressing the hedge, he was not cutting the hedge - he crushed it on land that did not belong to him."

Mr Warren, who is representing himself, originally told the police that he had not caused the damage, although he did identify himself as the owner of the mini-digger.

He is denying criminal damage.

Mr Warren was previously evicted from the land in 2004.

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