homeThursday 27th June 2019

Farmer who assaulted EA officer fined

Katie Coyne11/10/2018 - 14:30

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EA officer was just carrying out his job
EA officer was just carrying out his job

A man who assaulted an Environment Agency officer and and threatened to kill the officer's family and burn their house down has been ordered to pay almost £4,000 and given a 12-month conditional discharge.

The EA officer was investigating a suspected slurry pollution of a watercourse in January this year when he was assaulted by John Aaron Laing of East Learmouth Farm in Cornhill-on-Tweed, Northumberland.

Laing pleaded not guilty to assault, threatening and abusive behaviour and obstructing an EA officer in the execution of his duty. But he was found guilty on 2 October of all offences following a trial at Berwick Magistrate’s Court.

The court heard that Laing said he would ‘finish’ the officer, find out where he lived, burn his house down and kill his family. He kept walking into the officer and raising his hands as if he was going to punch him and inviting the officer to hit him.

EA enforcement team leader in the North East Paul Whitehill said: ‘Our officers are doing an important job to protect the environment and investigate anything which impacts on the quality of our rivers and they shouldn’t have to put up with any kind of abusive or threatening behaviour during the course of their work.’

Whitehall said the EA officer was taking water quality samples as part of enquiries to establish a potential source of pollution so it could be stopped and prevented in future.

He added: ‘The safety of our officers is paramount and we will always take action against people who assault them or are threatening and abusive. Hopefully this sends out a message to others that it will not be tolerated.’

Laing was fined £1,246 for assault and threatening behaviour, ordered to pay £250 compensation to the EA officer, plus £2,400 in costs. He was given a 12-month conditional discharge for obstruction.



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