A DUNFERMLINE farm owner accused of using his dogs to deter walkers from using a disputed right of way through his property has been fined.

Mica Giles, 52, of West Baldridge Farm House, West Baldridge Road, went on trial at Dunfermline Sheriff Court in July and returned to court for sentencing.

Giles was found guilty of the two charges he faced and Sheriff Lindsay Foulis has now fined him £500.

On October 1, 2020, at a public right of way at West Baldridge Farm, his dogs, whilst unsupervised, untethered and unmuzzled, ran towards Ian Hood and his tethered Labrador, barked aggressively and lunged towards the labrador.

Then, on March 7, the same offence occurred in an incident involving Robert Hood, who was walking the same dog.

Yvonne Morrison, 54, a lecturer, said that four years ago, she had been walking her dog through the farmyard when two border collies “went for” her pet.

“One of them went for its throat. I screamed,” said the witness. “Mica came out and shouted to the dogs. I got a big fright and didn’t go back there.”

Ian Hood, 39, a postman, told the court of an incident when he was walking through the farm with his dad’s dog.

He said: “Two border collies came running out from one of the buildings. They were barking, were aggressive and went for the dog.

“The dog was very scared and trying to hide behind me. I put myself between it and the collies and was shouting at them to get back.

“They were trying to bite the dog but they didn’t manage it.”

The next witness at the trial was Ian Hood’s 70-year-old father, Robert.

He said: “I was out walking with my dog on the lead that morning. The owner didn’t want people walking through the yard. I believe he didn’t know it was a right of way but it has been as long as I can remember.

“I’ve been walking my dogs there for 30 years and there’s a lot of other people do the same.

“Two black and white dogs came running out at my dog. They were barking and snarling. I was trying to protect my dog. I saw someone to my right but he wasn’t doing anything to call the dogs off.

“I was attempting to fend the dogs off with my walking stick. I was crouched down and hit one of them on the back with my stick.”

The man, identified by the witness as the accused, then screamed: “You’ve hit my dogs.”

Mr Hood went on: “He ran over shouting, ‘Get off my property now’. I walked away and out of the yard. He came running over again shouting: ‘I’m phoning the police now’.

“He was taking photos of me on his phone then made a 999 call and was screaming down the phone saying that someone had hit his dog.

“He also claimed that I had hit him with my walking stick. I turned around and said, ‘Liar’ to him. That was the first thing I had said to him. He was still in a rage and shouting down the phone.”

Mr Hood senior said his dog had not been injured but was “very, very frightened and cowering”.

PC Ross Menzies said that, as far as he was aware, the area involved was a public right of way.

In his evidence, Giles said he had taken legal advice and had been told there was no public right of way through his property.

He stated: “The incidents occurred on private land and dogs are free to roam on private property.

“These are not aggressive dogs. They are kept in kennels during the day and get into the house at night.

“They’ve not got an aggressive bone in them.

“This is more about individuals accessing my farm than it is about my dogs. There’s a bigger story around this. They are family pets who have become embroiled in these issues about rights of access.”

Depute fiscal Zahra Bhatti had put it to Giles that he deliberately released his dogs on members of the public to stop them using the route.

He replied: “My dogs are not aggressive. If I released them, they would just go over and play.”

In her summing up, Ms Bhatti said: “It was the accused’s intention to stop members of the public using the right of way.”

In his summing up. Giles said: “There’s no legal right of way.”