A JAILED Herefordshire farmer has been sent back to prison tonight after an appeal hearing.

The 68-year-old farmer, John Price, was sentenced to 12 months in prison by District Judge Ian Strongman at Kidderminster Magistrates Court on April 20 after he carried out illegal works to the river Lugg.

The farmer used heavy machinery including bulldozers and excavators to dredge and reprofile a 1.5km stretch of the Lugg at Kingsland, Herefordshire, destroying the riverbed and banks.

The works were in breach of several regulations, and in a Site of Special Scientific Interest, which persisted despite Price being issued with a stop notice.

Price, of Day House Farm in Kingsland, said at that hearing that he would be appealing the sentence, which also saw him hit with prosecution costs of £600,000, disqualified from being a director of a limited company for three years, and handed a restoration order requiring him to carry out a number of actions to restore the river.

His appeal at the crown court, which was adjourned part-heard last week, resumed this morning (May 12), before Judge Nicholas Cole.

But despite both prosecution and defence arguments being heard, a decision was not reached today, meaning that he has been sent back to prison.

Price was tearful as he was led down from the dock to the court cells, from which he will be transported back to prison.

He will appear again before the court on Wednesday, when it is expected a verdict will be delivered.

The court heard from the prosecution today that sheep are now able to defecate into the river Lugg at the site of the works, causing more phosphate problems in Herefordshire's already at-threat waterways.

The river's channel has been significantly altered, with the over-straightened and deepened river now having greater erosive force, while removal of vegetation has significantly weakened the banks, and the removal of tree cover will adversely affect the temperature of the river in the area, the court heard.

The two affected sections were also said to have reduced diversity, while significantly lower numbers of salmon have been reported downstream, although numbers have been on the decline in the country.

The prosecution said that Price, who has autism, does know right from wrong and that his cognitive skills are in the normal range, while he has been capable of running businesses turning over several millions, with assets worth £20 million.

He has been "very adept" at running his farm, defence barrister Jo Sidhu KC said, which he has been charge of since taking it over from his father at the age of 16.


But, Mr Sidhu said, reading a statement from a doctor, his autism must inevitably have contributed to his offending, and that he was prescribed medication for his mental health in 2013.

He said Price approaches things differently to non-autistic people, believed his actions were right, and can be abrupt, but does not pose a risk to the public and that the floods in the area have caused him stress.

Mr Sidhu said that Natural England ecologist Vicki Howden's report showed that all key species have returned to the section of the river, and that features said to be missing are back.

He said, however, that the report is inconsistent, and warned the court to be especially cautious of any negative picture, with the court today shown drone footage taken of the river on April 15, which Mr Sidhu said may have changed the original outcome.

He said Price had shown remorse and that he had not carried out the works for commercial gain, spending £20,000 of his own money on carrying them out.

Restoration works, the court heard from prosecutor Bernard Thorogood, could cost Price upwards of £600,000.