Police stand-off at Ribble Valley caravan site: court case

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A fork lift truck was driven towards police officers during a stand-off at the gates of a Ribble Valley caravan site.

Blackburn magistrates heard the vehicle was driven by Thomas Beard who was one of a number of “hostile” men who had refused to let the officers in and made threats towards them and their vehicles.

And the court heard that as a result of his actions, Beard had been recalled on prison licence and would be serving 28 days in custody.

Beard (52), of Acorn Lodge Stables, Longsight Road, Clayton-le-Dale, pleaded guilty to obstructing a police officer.

He was fined £70 with £20 costs, which was set against one day in custody. A charge of threatening to destroy vehicles belonging to Lancashire Constabulary was withdrawn.

Mr Mike Wallbank (prosecuting) said police received a call from a distressed female, Nina Beard, saying she was being threatened by members of her family and one of them was her husband, the defendant.

“Initially two officers attended and they were confronted by locked gates and a group of hostile males,” said Mr Wallbank. “The officers were threatened and told to get off the land. Beard said it was his land and their vehicles would be destroyed.”

Beard then went into a compound and reappeared driving a fork lift truck towards the police vehicle.

Mr Wallbank said the police withdrew for their own safety, but returned later with other officers and were able to gain entry to the site.

“A number of arrests were made, including this defendant,” said Mr Wallbank.

Mr Andrew Church-Taylor (defending) said Beard had been at a pub in Ribchester with friends when he received a call saying a close family member and his wife were falling out and it would be a good idea for him to return home.

“The group all came back to the site, where my client told both women to calm down and go to bed,” said Mr Church-Taylor.

“Unbeknown to him a call had been made from the site to the police alleging all sorts of things.”

Mr Church-Taylor said when the police arrived Beard told them everything had been sorted out and the people involved had gone to bed.

“The more insistent the police were that they were coming in the more determined he became that they weren’t,” said Mr Church-Taylor.

“He said it was his land, no offence was being committed and they had no right to enter. The more they insisted the stronger his belief he was within his rights.”

“He obstructed the police in the mistaken belief he was acting within the law,” said Mr Church-Taylor.

“He now accepts the police had the legal right to check on the welfare of the lady who made the initial complaint.”