Criminal Behaviour Order for anti-social horse owner

1 June 2016

A man who persistently used other people’s land to graze his horses and threatened witnesses with violence has been handed a Criminal Behaviour Order following a successful court application made by Newark and Sherwood District Council and the police following his conviction of unrelated criminal offences.

John Winter (49), of Montgomery Road, Newark, has been warned that he faces imprisonment if he breaches the order when he appeared before Nottingham Magistrates.

Winter had been arrested and subsequently found guilty of assaulting a constable and using abusive, threatening or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause fear and given a jail sentence for each of these offences,​ of six weeks, suspended for two years and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £300. He was also given a 24-month supervision order to run alongside the length of the period of the suspended prison sentence. 

The court heard that numerous cases of ‘fly-grazing’ had been reported to the council and police - where Winter had allowed his horses to graze on private  land and historically-owned council land - but witnesses were repeatedly intimidated with threats of harm, violence or abuse.

In total 38 incidents of fly-grazing were tracked back to Winter between July 2013 and June 2015 and on a number of occasions his horses were untethered, had wandered onto nearby roads. In one case they strayed onto a railway line and one was knocked over by a freight train.

In one case where a bailiff was acting on behalf of a landowner to have Winter’s horses removed from his land, Winter verbally abused the bailiff and threatened to burn the landowner’s house down. However, the court was told that the landowner, who said that the fly-grazing and associated threats were ‘wrecking his life’,   declined to give a formal statement to police for fear of reprisals from Winter.

The defendant also threatened to ‘smash up’ another complainant who had written to the council about his fly-grazing animals and a council environmental health officer, who had been investigating dog noise and smells at Winter’s home said that he had created an ‘atmosphere of fear and  violence which had restricted some individuals from  reporting matters effectively to the authorities’.

Another council officer investigating Winter’s anti-social behaviour also reported seeing a machete  in Winter’s kitchen and the defendant who had commented that he had used the weapon before when ‘people mess with him’.

The council’s environmental health team also served three noise abatement notices on Winter and his wife Karen between June 2014 and July 2015 associated with barking dogs, a cockerel and where Winter had been using a sledgehammer to demolish masonry in the early hours of the morning.

Under the terms of the Criminal Behaviour Order, which was granted by Judge Leo Pyle on May 20, Winter is forbidden from using threatening words or behaviour to anyone in Newark and Sherwood, banned from allowing his horses to be on private or public land without the owner’s prior written consent and must ensure that any animals kept at his home do not cause alarm, distress or nuisance to nearby residents.

Newark and Sherwood District Council Anti-Social Behaviour Officer Terry Bailey, said: “In partnership with the police, we will not hold back from acting to protect our residents from people who behave in a threatening and anti-social manner. Not only is there also an important animal welfare issue here, fly-grazing is a costly and dangerous nuisance which uses up valuable council resources. In some areas leaving horses untethered can lead to them straying onto the highway, posing a real danger of causing injury or death.

“This case illustrates how agencies, including the council, police and Newark and Sherwood Homes can work effectively   in enforcing against bad behaviour in a proportionate and necessary manner.” 

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