A MAN was struck with a crowbar-type weapon as intruders for the third time targeted a farm which offers assisted learning for people with special needs.
One of the four offenders hit Gregory Finch (31) in the ribs when he confronted them at Old Bells Farm in Everton Road in Hordle in the early hours of Saturday morning.
He suffered bruising and swelling, but did not need hospital treatment.
The incident, in which a failed attempt was made to force entry to a shipping container on the site, was one of two that took place in the village on the same morning. They are being linked by police.
Ann George, who has run the farm for the past 15 years, told the A&T she was alerted to the intrusion shortly after 3am as she had got out of bed to let the dog go outside.
“I was in the lounge when I noticed the sensor lights come on in the yard,” she said.
“I watched and waited in case it was just a fox, but then I saw four men walk across the yard. They were about 100 metres away so it wasn’t easy to see.
“I called my son Martin and Greg, my daughter’s partner. Greg was the closest to the scene so he went out there first.
“Greg was very brave – he tackled one guy. I didn’t really see what happened because we were out in the dark. He tackled one of them and got hit by a crowbar-type object.”
The quartet then fled the scene towards Everton Road, dropping the tools they had brought with them. They had attempted to cut a padlock on the container, causing damage but failing to get inside.
Although nothing was stolen, Mrs George said the trespassers scared one of her horses, causing it to jump out of its pen and injure itself.
“The horse is now lame,” she continued. “I think it will be alright, but it’s just very irritating.
“Greg’s fine. He’s just bruised. He didn’t go to hospital because he didn’t feel the need to. He’s made of tough stuff!
“It doesn’t bear thinking about what could have happened. I did think about should we have tackled them? But if it’s your property, why shouldn’t you?”
As reported in the A&T, vandals previously trespassed on the farm in November last year and sprayed purple antiseptic paint on nine young goats and sheep.
In April 2017, a padlock was cut to an outbuilding at the site, but nothing was stolen.
The latest incident prompted the farm to invest in increased security measures, including CCTV cameras and sensor lights.
Praising the police’s quick response, Mrs George concluded: “It seems there are a spate of incidents where people feel they can just steal other people’s property.
“I just hope the police will catch those responsible.”
Officers investigating the attack and attempted break-in are linking them with a raid on the nearby New Forest Demolition Ltd site in Silver Street, also on Saturday.
Between 4am and 5.30am, entry was forced to a shipping container there and tools were removed from inside. However, it is thought the offenders may have also been disturbed in this incident as all the items were abandoned outside the container.
Anyone with information should contact Hampshire officers on 101, quoting crime reference number 44190091862 for the Old Bells Farm incident or 441900992022 for the one at New Forest Demolition Ltd. Crimestoppers can also be called on 0800 555 111.