A farmer from East Yorkshire has been cleared by the Hull Crown Court after just 24 minutes of discussion.
Kenneth Hugill, who is 83 years old, and uses a hearing aid and a walking stick, thanked the jury for their swift decision, but criticised the police response and the decision to prosecute at all.
The jury heard that Hugill had gone outside after he had heard a vehicle on his land in the early hours of 13 December 2015.
The defendant stated that he had been “petrified” when he had heard the vehicle’s engine revving and thought it was being driven towards him.
He then used a shotgun, which had been given to him 62 years ago by his parents, on his 21st birthday, to shoot down the side of the vehicle and scare away the drivers, but he managed to accidentally hit one of the passengers in the foot.
Hugill’s son, David, had called the police at 2.23 am to report a suspected theft of diesel, which the family have experienced issues with before, but that when he arrived at around 5pm, he found armed police, forensic officers and a helicopter surrounding the building.
He told the Guardian, “They told us they heard there had been a firearms offence and they were looking for hostages. We were very shocked with their actions and they didn’t give us any explanation.”
“The police are pushed to the limit and can’t cover the countryside and people have the right to protect their property in the middle of the night when there is no response or back-up.”
Gerry Wareham, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “We are satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to put the matter before a court and that it was in the public interest to do so.”
DCS Matt Hutchinson, of Humberside police, said: “The police response to this incident was appropriate given that someone sustained serious injuries after being shot, with firearms officers attending to ensure both the officer safety and that of the public.”