Businessman Andrew Woodhouse who beat thieves is cleared
A businessman has been cleared of causing grievous bodily harm to thieves he caught red-handed raiding his business.
Andrew Woodhouse, 44, from Govilon, Monmouthshire, beat one so badly his legs and arm were broken.
He then sat on burglars Kevin Green and Timothy Cross until the police arrived, Cardiff Crown Court heard.
Mr Woodhouse's firm had repeatedly been targeted by thieves. Green and Cross were later fined £75 each for theft.
The Crown Prosecution Service said it considered that there was a realistic prospect of conviction.
The court heard how Mr Woodhouse, who runs a groundworks business, was woken at about 00:30 GMT one day in March 2013 by a text message telling him a burglar alarm had gone off at the tyre yard where his business is based a mile from his home.
'Over the top'
Gwent Police officers found Green, 53, lying injured under a blanket and Cross, 32, claiming the businessman had gone "over the top".
The court was told the father-of-five was arrested and accused of using excessive force.
But Andrew Taylor, defending, said: "These thieves thought they would have nice easy pickings that night.
"Many people would have given up and just claimed on their insurance but Mr Woodhouse is made of sterner stuff.
"He showed stoicism, courage and fitness to chase them.
"One of the men was armed and went to attack him. He acted in lawful self defence.
"He agrees the red mist came down which you can understand when his business has almost been wiped out by crime.
"If it hadn't been for him these men would not have been caught. Where are we in society when a person cannot act in self-defence to protect his property? That is what Mr Woodhouse was doing."
Green and Cross tried to escape into a neighbouring field with jerry cans full of stolen fuel.
Fought like 'mad man'
But Mr Woodhouse chased Green and caught him near their getaway car. He attacked Green leaving him with two broken legs and a broken arm.
Mr Woodhouse then chased Cross before rugby-tackling him and then lying on top of the raider until police arrived.
James Wilson, prosecuting, said: "When he saw his hard earned money carted off by a couple of ne'er-do-wells, he gave chase in anger intending to injure them."
Mr Wilson described it an "unreasonable and unlawful assault".
He said: "It was not reasonable self-defence. Mr Woodhouse lost his temper and went over the top.
"He is a hard working businessman but he has let his frustration get the better of him. He lost it."
The court heard how Mr Woodhouse gave police a full account of how he fought with the two raiders like a "mad man".
He told police: "I swore at the men and grabbed one of them, I then felt a blow to my hand and shoulder and began grappling with them.
"I was pushed over and then I grabbed something from one of their hands which felt like a wooden fence post."
Mr Woodhouse said he was "gutted and sickened" to learn the extent of Green's injuries.
The businessman, who denied the charges and was found not guilty on Wednesday, set up his company 20 years ago and had suffered the theft of machinery worth between £15,000 and £25,000 in recent years, the court heard.
The Crown Prosecution said it had considered it in the public interest to charge Mr Woodhouse.
It said in a statement: "In light of the evidence, including the injuries suffered by one of the intruders, it was the prosecution case that Mr Woodhouse's actions during the incident went beyond what the law allows for in terms of self-defence.
The statement said the CPS decided that it was appropriate to bring the matter to court so that a jury could determine the issue.
"Ultimately, all evidence relating to criminal cases is tested during the trial process, with the jury being the final arbiters of guilt or innocence.
"We respect the jury's decision on this matter."