A company director woke up on Boxing Day morning to find a herd of cows in his garden.
Tim Holt, a Mold building company boss who lives in a large country house, discovered the herd of cows had caused extensive damage.
A community protection order was served on neighbouring farmer John Dewi Floyd to secure his fencing and to prevent his cows and sheep from escaping into the country lanes and causing damage to neighbouring properties.
But a court heard the problem continued despite the fact Floyd had been offered help from a charity to secure the fences at the 300 acre holding at Foel Las Farm near the village of Eryrys.
Floyd, 53, denied breaching the order, claiming in many instances the sheep and cows involved were not his. But he was convicted at the end of a two-day trial at Flintshire Magistrates’ Court at Mold.
He was fined £500 with £300 costs and ordered to pay a £50 surcharge.
Magistrates warned Floyd he could have been fined up to £2,500, but they took into account that his income was very limited. But they warned that if it happened again then no court would be so lenient and it was now vital his fencing was “totally secure” to prevent a repetition.
They told Floyd everyone needed help now and again and he should accept further assistance from the Community Payback scheme.
Photographs and films of the animals straying were provided by Mr Holt, and other neighbours Heather Kirby and Sue Cotterill.
They told how the problem of animals straying caused.
Prosecutor Sheyanne Lee said it was clear the animals came from Floyd’s farm, where the fences and gates were simply not secure.
Defending barrister Jade Tufail said it was Floyd’s case that on many occasions the animals were not owned by him.
Floyd said in evidence there had been instances when his animals had escaped. Workmen left a gate open on one occasion – and on another a tree was brought down in a storm which damaged a fence.
But on other occasions he said the animals were not his.
Shown a photograph of one gate he agreed it was “not very good”, but said there was no livestock in that field at the time.
When one magistrate pointed out that two sheep could be seen in the field, he suggested they “must have wandered in” from other farms.
Shown other photographs, he said: “They are not ours.”
He said he was not a partner in the farm business and his father, who was seriously ill, was a sole trader. In evidence, he said he worked hard as a farmer and helped his mother look after his father.
When documents were produced which showed he had signed as a partner, he said they were not correct. He told the court he had not been aware of the terms of the order because he had put it in a cupboard without reading it.
Floyd alleged some malicious complaints were made. Police had called him late at night to say his animals were on the road when they were not.
The prosecutor said the order was signed by the defendant after cows strayed into Mr Holt’s property early on Boxing Day, 2015, causing extensive damage during the five hours they were there.
In formal admissions before the court the defendant agreed the cows were his, she said.
But questioned in court, Floyd said that they were not. He said he should have taken legal advice before he signed any documents.
Floyd agreed he had been assisted in putting up fences by the Community Payback scheme in the past. But he denied he had refused any further help.
He said complaints were made about him when he was legitimately moving cows and a bull along the lane from on part of the holding to another.
“We have been getting problems when we are moving livestock legitimately. I am busy farming. I am not doing anything wrong,” he complained.
Magistrates said they found the witnesses credible, the defendant had agreed that on occasions livestock had escaped and it was clear his sheep did not always have identification marks on them. It was not credible other people’s sheep wandered onto his land, they said.
After the conviction, Miss Tufail said there had been an impact on the farm since Floyd’s father’s illness and the upkeep of the site had not been as good as when the two of them were farming.
The farm was not making a profit, she said, and magistrates agreed he pay off the penalty at £20 a month.