AN 83-year-old farmer shot a man in pitch darkness when he thought he was stealing diesel from tanks outside his house, a court has heard.

Kenneth Hugill went out to challenge alleged burglar Richard Stables at 2am, then shot him in the foot using a double-barreled shotgun he had been given for his 21st birthday, more than 60 years previously.

Hugill has gone on trial accused of inflicting grievous bodily harm. He denies the charge and says he was acting in self-defence.

The confrontation happened outside Hugill's house at Mill House Farm, Wilberberfoss, on November 13, 2015.

Mr Stables, of Bradford, had been out lamping with a lurcher dog. He told a jury he and a pal had stumbled on the farm and he said he was putting the lurcher back in a Land Rover Discovery when he was shot in the foot without warning.

He told Hull Crown Court: “As I went to shut the door I saw a figure appear. No words were spoken. Whoever was stood there fired a gun that hit my foot. I felt excruciating pain. I thought my foot had gone. The shot went all the way through my foot taking all the bones with it.”

“I thought my foot was not there. I can’t remember much after, except we set off driving. I heard another shot. It may have been straight away afterwards. There were definitely two shots. One hit me in the foot. I was bleeding quite lot. I tied a rope around my leg to stop it coming out. I ended up at York Hospital accident and emergency.”

He said his friend Adrian Baron, who had driven over with him from Bradford, left him with two nurses who took him in inside the hospital. He admitted: “That was the last I saw of him.”

York Press:

He said: “The shot went all the way through my foot. I am still having problems. I am in a wheelchair most of the time and a little bit on crutches. I am taking medication for the pain and on a mild-anti-depressant. Now I can’t go out. I am stuck in and depressed.”

Hugill told police he was acting in self defence. He said he fired a shot down the side of the Land Rover and one in the air as its engine revved up at him. He said he did not intend to cause any harm.

The jury heard Mr Stables has allegedly got convictions for burglary and theft, possession of an offensive weapon. The defence said he was also on a police intelligence crime list as a person active in rural crime after an incident in Helmsley where an officer threatened him with CS spray.

Opening the Crown case barrister Christopher Dunn, prosecuting said: “Mr Hugill accepts he fired a shotgun. What is an issue is exactly what happened at the time the shot was fired, and why it was fired.

“The issue for you, essentially, is whether it was reasonable for Mr Hugill to act in the way in which he did.”

“The Crown say Mr Hugill discharged the weapon recklessly, without shouting. He did not make any attempt to call the police. Indeed he armed himself before he left the house.

"He did not fire in to the air, but instead towards the vehicle. At the very least he was reckless.

"Mr Hugill says that the car was revving its engine at him. We do not accept that. We say that was a falsehood put forward as an excuse for the discharge of the weapon in circumstances Mr Hugill knew was not appropriate.”

The court heard Bradford–based Stables had been picked up by Baron from Oldham and driven over to East Yorkshire on November 13, 2015.

Mr Dunn said the first the police knew the pair in the area was when officers from North Yorkshire Police stopped them on the A64 between Tadcaster and York just after midnight.

The men said they were going out with their dog lamping in Bridlington on land where they had permission to do so. Mr Dunn said the next thing the authorities knew was at 2.33am, when Humberside Police got a call from Mr Hugill's son David saying there had been a burglary of diesel at the farm and a 4X4 vehicle had been spotted.

Mr Hugill’s son was told to contact the police again when he knew what exactly had been stolen. Mr Dunn said: “He did not mention at the time a shotgun had been discharged.”

Mr Dunn said the next the authorities knew was CCTV at 2.28am showed Stables being dropped off by his friend at York Hospital with a shotgun injury to his foot.

Mr Dunn admitted Stables had given three different accounts as to how he came by these injuries at the hospital. First he said he had accidently shot himself, then he said he was shot by a friend. Only when it was realised how serious the injuries did he he finally disclose it was a farmer that shot him.

Richard Stables told the jury: “I think I wanted to see if the farmer in question would report it to the police. I thought he would not say a word. So I left it. He didn’t say anything. I told hospital staff I had been shot. I did not say who shot me. I was kept in hospital until December 7.”

York Press:

Cross-examining, Roderick Hunt asked Mr Stables about his claim to be depressed and asked about him lending his car to his friend Adrian Baron, who was spotted by police in Cumbria in September 2016 during an inquiry in the theft of other cars.

Mr Stables said he had leant his car to Baron but added: “As far as I know Mr Baron has not been done or stealing cars in Cumbria.”

Mr Hunt asked Mr Stables if he had any previous convictions? Stables replied: “Barely.”

Mr Hunt said: “Possession of an offence weapon in 1992?”

Mr Stables replied: “I can’t remember that.”

Mr Hunt continued: “Going equipped for theft 1991? Burglary and theft in 1993?” Mr Stables made no answer.

Mr Hunt said: “You are on a list of crime suspects who regularly commit crime in rural areas. Do you remember being arrested in Helmsley for threatening an officer and you are now to be approached with caution?

Mr Stables replied: “It is first time I have heard this in my life. I have never been arrested for violence.”

Mr Stables admitted he had been out that night driving around with the dog – lamping from the car.

He said they had initially thought of going to Bridlington, but got lost on a motorway diversion and stumbled on Mill Lane at Wilberfoss.

He said the car was stopped as the dog had made a mess inside and it was by coincidence they were near the farmhouse.

He said he had no idea there was a house there or the diesel tanks. He said he was calling to get the dog back into the car after cleaning up its mess and may have pointed the lamp at the farmhouse window by accident.

He denied his version of lamping was anything to do with hunting and said it was more akin to nocturnal bird watching looking for hares, rabbits and owls. He denied police claims they had found a picture of a dead badger on his Facebook page.

Mr Hunt said: “A badger is a nocturnal animal. A bit like you?”

Mr Stables replied: “I am a nocturnal person. There is no crime in that.”

Mr Hunt continued: “When the police investigated this case you told police you had weapons at home for self defence?

Mr Stables replied: “That is lies. It is utter rubbish.”

Mr Hunt accused Mr Stables of telling lies to hospital staff about how his injury was caused inventing a fictional man called Paul Smith.

Mr Stables admitted Paul Smith was a lie. He also challenged Mr Stables to give the address for the man he was supposed to be visiting in Bridlington.

Mr Stables admitted: “I have no idea”. Mr Hunt said Stables had deliberately shone a light up at Mr Hugill's window that night and had pulled up quietly next to the farm diesel tanks to avoid disturbing those in the house.

He said Mr Stables had fictionalized letting the dog out of the car next to the farm.

Mr Hunt said: “You just made it up. It is the dog defence that burglars have when they are stopped by the police.” Mr Stables denied this insisting the dog had made a mess in the car.

Mr Dunn told the jury Hugill was interviewed by police on February 12 2016 and denied the offence. Hugill said at about 2am he saw a light through the bedroom window and saw a vehicle driving slowly along the isolated track towards the farm, which made him suspicious.

Mr Dunn said: “He got dressed, went to the shotgun cabinet, got a side-by-side shotgun and put two cartridges in. He said he took the shotgun outside and did not know what he was going to do with it”

Mr Hugill said he went outside, saw a vehicle which revved its engine and drove towards him. He said he fired a shot down the side of the vehicle, and the second shot up in the air.

He said he didn’t see a person down the side of the car, didn’t intend to injure anyone, and wasn’t aware he had done.

He described himself as competent with a shotgun. Judge David Trembeg told the jury Hugill was an 83-year-old man who had difficulty with his hearing and the court would allow him to sit behind his barrister out of the dock so he can take comfort breaks.

The trial continues.