Church Fenton: Man assaulted resident trying to save birds nests

A businessman has been fined £4,800 after assaulting a man in a village in North Yorkshire who was trying to stop trees with birds' nests being chopped.

Leeds East Airport owner Chris Makin, 65, attacked Andrew Mason, 63, as he lay in front of a cherry-picker in Church Fenton on 4 April 2023.

Mr Mason told Harrogate Magistrates' Court on Thursday Makin did not have permission to cut trees with nests in.

He added he thought his "life was in peril" during the assault.

In a witness statement, the parish council chairman told the court he was with a group of local residents who had gathered to try to stop contractors working for Makin from "crowning" trees.

Mr Mason said he felt compelled to lie in front of the cherry-picker to prevent the work being carried out, as they were concerned about the birds and that Makin did not have permission to remove nests nor close the road.

His statement added that at one point, Makin appeared to tell his workmen to move the cherry picker forward as Mr Mason lay in front of it.

The court also watched video footage of the incident, where the defendant was heard saying "forward a bit".

Makin then tried to drag Mr Mason by his clothes and hair, the footage showed.

Mr Mason added that at this point, he feared he "could be viciously attacked in broad daylight in the village I love and where I have brought up my children".

Michael Smith, who was prosecuting, said Makin had not shown any remorse.

"The defendant scooped Mr Mason's hair into his hands and tried to pull him across the road by his hair," he added.

The prosecutors went on to describe how, before the footage began, Makin had poked Mr Mason in the face and knocked off his glasses, and then "thrown him to the floor in a kind-of headlock".

Andrew Mason
Mr Mason said he thought his "life was in peril" during the incident [PA Media]

Makin, of Micklefield, North Yorkshire, who had been found guilty of assault by beating at an earlier trial, was fined and also ordered to pay a £1,920 surcharge, £775 costs and £684 compensation to Mr Mason.

Richard Wright KC, who was defending, said his client had "learned a salutary lesson" and told the court he had made a "massive contribution to the GDP of the UK".

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