An angry farmer who erected a huge sign branding his ‘lawless’ village as the ‘nastiest in Worcestershire’ will go on trial after he refused to remove it.
Carl Powell, 75, put up the 15ft billboard describing the village of Peopleton, near Pershore, as a ‘murderous, lawless and godforsaken place’ on an old grain dryer at his Stone Arrow Farm.
He was slapped with a £90 fine earlier this year but refused to pay up and was taken to court charged with a public order offence.
The court heard he caused ‘harassment, alarm or distress’ to the 640 residents of Peopleton between February 16 and 24 this year.
Carl Powell (pictured outside Worcester Magistrates Court with a duplicate of his sign), 75, put up the billboard describing the village of Peopleton as a ‘murderous, lawless and godforsaken place’
The angry farmer placed the sign on an old grain dryer at his Stone Arrow Farm and was soon slapped with a £90 fine
Mr Powell arrived at Worcester Magistrates’ Court on July 1 holding a smaller copy of the original sign along with another claiming his gates had been vandalised.
Representing himself, he told JPs the signs were ‘evidence’, claiming he was exercising his ‘right to freedom of speech’.
One sign read: ‘Welcome to Peopleton, a murderous lawless godforsaken place probably, most definitely the nastiest village in Worcestershire.’
The other contained reference to field gates being taken off their hinges on October 24, 2018 to ‘let stock onto the highway’.
The sign mentioned a reward of £3,000 for information and the crime number 425-S-22-95504-18.
Mr Powell, who was barred from taking the signs into the courtroom by a security guard, told the court: ‘He said it was an offensive weapon. An offensive weapon – a sign?
‘My defence is that the sign is true and factual – and I can prove that.’
Advised to see a solicitor, Mr Powell declined and replied: ‘All I need to do is tell the truth. I don’t need a solicitor to do that.’
Mr Powell refused to pay up and was taken to Worcester Magistrates’ Court charged with a public order offence. Pictured: Mr Powell carrying a sign saying ‘truth is now a crime’ on his farm
The court heard that Mr Powell displayed the sign on an old grain dryer ‘with the intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress to the residents of Peopleton’
The court heard that that the sign was visible to road users and Mr Powell was issued with a fixed penalty notice
The court heard Mr Powell displayed the sign on an old grain dryer at his Stone Arrow Farm ‘with the intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress to the residents of Peopleton’.
Mark Hambling, prosecuting, said: ‘The sign was displayed 15ft off the ground.
‘It was visible to road users and the gentleman was issued with a fixed penalty notice for a section 5 (public order) offence.
‘I’m led to believe the gentleman did not pay the fine related to that and appears before you today charged with this matter.
‘The Crown will say the matter is suitable for summary trial.’
Mr Powell told JPs: ‘This is utterly ridiculous. All this over a sign.’
The case was adjourned until his trial next month and Mr Powell was granted unconditional bail.