May 22 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, March 14, 2013
FORMER town councillor, Wisbech butcher and West Norfolk farmer Leonard Fulcher threatened to burn down Fenland Council offices in a long running enforcement battle with them, a court heard.
Fulcher – a Wisbech councillor for four years until 2011- also threatened to gun down council workers in a Raul Moat-style rampage after his pig farm at Foul Anchor near Tydd Gote was burned down.
Fulcher- a rare breeds farmer who bought Bliss Butchers in 2005 in Norfolk Street and ran it until it burnt down in January 2007- made the threats to his solicitors after losing patience with them during a six-year planning fight with Fenland District Council.
The 60-year-old, of Ramblewood Farm, Pott Row, near King’s Lynn, had been attempting to take the council to court since August 2006 after they burned down a barn on his pig farm which the council said did not have planning permission.
Fulcher had a small three acre site at Foul Anchor for pig rearing but council chiefs fought and won an enforcement issue as to whether he was building a piggery or a house on the land. The council took direct action, demolished it, and set alight the remains.
Fulcher, who also stood as a councillor for the Conservative party in West Norfolk council elections in 2011, began legal action against the council for the damage, loss of earnings and costs.
In July 2012, he lost patience with his solicitors, Hayes and Storr, who were supposed to be taking action against the council.
On July 10, Fulcher arrived unannounced at their office in Fakenham and spoke to Amanda Nudds who worked for the firm.
Miss Nudds told Norwich Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday that Fulcher had become angry at the apparent lack of progress with his case and he told her he would shoot council officers.
She said: “He was talking about how he would have his day. He knew where they (the officers) were. He would go and shoot them. He would get his justice that way.”
She added: “He was talking about being like Raoul Moat. I was quite scared. I had never come across an issue like it before. I believed him. I believed he was capable.”
Miss Nudds added that he also threatened to burn down Fenland District Council’s offices.
She told her boss but the firm continued to act for Fulcher.
In August Fulcher, who had a fire arms licence, received a letter from Hayes and Storr stating that their barristers had estimated the damage caused by the council at £25,000 - well below previous quotes he had from another law firm estimating his claim to be worth £250,000.
He then called up Miss Nudds on August 14 and made further threats to go on a shooting rampage.
She said: “There were more threats to shoot the officers and shoot himself. He was serious and capable.”
Miss Nudds told the court that Fulcher started talking about the Soham murders and how their parents would want justice.
She said the farmer then referred to how he had been in prison and attacked a man who killed a girl in Hilgay.
Miss Nudds said: “I tried to calm him down and said it is not worth it.”
Once again she told her boss and the police were contacted.
The farmer was then arrested by armed police. He described how six officers with guns “swarmed” on to his farm.
He said he was strip searched and put into the cells for hours before being interviewed.
Fulcher denied the allegations but was found guilty by magistrates of two threats to kill and one count of harassing Miss Nudds.
He said that Miss Nudds had lied to him in July last year about sending a letter to barristers concerning his case against the council and had tried to cover her own back by making up allegations about him.
He described the way the legal firm treated him as “appalling”.
Fulcher denied that he had lost his temper but said he was “frustrated”. He said he had wasted six years and spent £25,000 in legal fees on pursuing the council.
He told the court that he did not threaten to kill anyone or burn down the council’s buildings, but instead he intended to speak to James Morgan from Hayes and Storr, who he knew through the Conservative Association, about the way he had been treated.
Hayes and Storr were the third group of solicitors he had instructed to pursue the council and Fulcher is now pursuing the council for up to £400,000 through another law firm.
Sandy Chandler, chairman of the bench, told Fulcher that all sentencing options would be considered by magistrates, including prison.
The case was adjourned to April 10 for sentencing.