A farmer, angry at gypies for being illegally camped on his field, got rid of them by spraying their caravans with horse manure....

A GROUP of travellers have left their illegal camp in a farmer's field after he sprayed their caravans with manure.

Police were called to a disturbance at Hoon Hay Farm in Marston on Dove, behind Nestle's Hatton factory, at 7.45am on Saturday and found a crushed generator, a damaged truck and a burning caravan, as well as two others covered in slurry.

The itinerants, who set up camp on the site three weeks ago and left piles of tree cuttings blocking part of Marston Lane, told officers that farmer Timothy Hollis 'went mad' in his tractor, driving at their vehicles and nearly running down children.

However, Mr Hollis, who has run Hoon Hay Farm for 22 years, told the Mail today he had given the group prior warning and was attacked as he began his muck-spreading.

The 40-year-old said: "I'd already put signs up saying 'No parking, slurry spreading in progress', so when I saw them still there the next morning I just did it.

"I'd done one field and moved onto the second, when all of a sudden they appeared, running alongside the tractor and everywhere.

"One of them threw an iron bar through the window, which hit me on the back of the head, cutting me and causing me to be a bit concussed. I didn't want to run any of them over so I was swerving around like a snake trying to get out of the way.

"If you're trying to drive with people shouting and throwing iron bars at you you're not going to spread in a straight line."

Mr Hollis has admitted clipping the side of a caravan as he fled the field, but denies causing the extent of the damage being alleged by the travellers.

He said: "I think they've torched another old caravan then tried to blame it on me so they can claim. I've been away on holiday so my sole intention was to spray the fields it should have been done weeks ago but we had bad weather.

"They were trying to stop me to beat me up, and if they had stopped the tractor it would've probably been curtains for me."

One of the travellers, pregnant 25-year-old Rosemarie Smith, was taken to Burton's Queen's Hospital with stomach cramps during the incident, fearing the shock had sent her into labour five weeks early.

She said: "The tractor woke me up so I jumped out of bed and, when I looked out of the window, all these children were screaming and trying to run from the tractor there was nowhere to hide.

"If the farmer had come to us like everybody else and asked us to move, we would have gone away. I wouldn't like people on my land if it was me, but if I had anywhere else to go, I'd go tomorrow.

"I'm trying to live a peaceful life. We're human beings and he's treated us like animals."

The group was eventually moved on under the instructions of police at around 1.30pm on Saturday.

Pc Dan Love, who attended the scene, said: "There have been some allegations of criminal activity, both from the farmer and the travellers, which are under investigation.

"The farmer says he told the group in no uncertain terms that he would be muck-spreading and that's what he's done."

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