Farmer Goes On Trial Over Biker Death

A court's heard how a farmer who angrily pursued a group of off-road motorcyclists after they rode on his land killed one of them when his Land Rover Discovery toppled on to him after a collision.

Timothy Wolfe, 63, went after the group of five bikers when he saw them cross his field in October 2010, Winchester Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Ian Lawrie QC said that Wolfe had had problems with off-road bikers before and was ''upset and angry'' about them being on his land and he pursued them so he could ''remonstrate'' with them.

He collided with one of the bikes, leading to the death of father-of-one Gary Greaves, the court heard.

Wolfe, from Sunwood Farm, Ditcham, near Petersfield denies the manslaughter of Mr Greaves and causing actual bodily harm to another rider, Andrew Kirkpatrick, by wanton and furious driving.

The group, mainly from West Sussex, had been taking part in an activity called green laning but had become lost, the jury was told.

They had gone across the field of stubble owned by Wolfe to try to find another route, but found it blocked and so the men went back, the jury was told.

They then turned on to a muddy track with Wolfe behind.

Mr Lawrie told the court it was the Crown's case that Wolfe drove ''recklessly, irresponsibly and too close and too fast'' to the bikers, given the ''muddy and greasy'' conditions on the track.

The farmer collided with Mr Kirkpatrick who in turn collided with his friend Mr Greaves, 48, on another trial bike, the court heard.

The Land Rover toppled over on to Mr Greaves, pinning him under the vehicle.

The other riders managed to push the Discovery off the married builder from Arundel, West Sussex, but he died despite attempts to save him, the jury heard. Mr Kirkpatrick suffered minor injuries.

After the accident, Wolfe was heard to say: ''You were riding on my land.''

''The Crown do not say that his purpose was to drive them into the ground, but he clearly went down there to have some form of remonstration with them,'' Mr Lawrie said.

''He was in pursuit of those motorcycles as they had left the field. He did not leave it there.

''He wanted to remonstrate with them. He had gone there upset and angry. He wanted a confrontation that did not work out as anticipated.''

When arrested, Wolfe told police he had wanted ''to frighten them''.

Mr Lawrie said Wolfe's driving had been irresponsible. ''Did he have a moment when he was not thinking straight?'' he asked the jury.

Mr Greaves had a lung condition that made being pinned under the vehicle much worse and it had been a factor in his death, a post-mortem examination found.

The leader of the bikers' group, Simon Frost, told the jury that the men had driven on tractor tracks and roads from Worthing on October 30 for a day of green laning, but the Petersfield area was uncharted territory.

A neighbour of Wolfe, the Rev Peter Mason, told the jury that many in the area considered the farmer to be ''the fourth emergency service'' as in the past he had been a good neighbour and a keen conservationist who had cleared snow and cut hedges for many.

The trial is expected to last eight days.