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Farmer jailed after shotgun threat to balloonist

Marie Dring, aged 50, repeatedly shouted at Martin Henley – who had been taking a balloon ride over the county with his wife to celebrate a special occasion – when it crash landed on a field near Potterspury.

Northampton Crown Court heard that Dring’s response to the incident was “wholly disproportionate” and that she deliberately poked Mr Henley in the chest with the shotgun, loaded it, and then poked him again.

She later claimed to the police she had poked him with a stick.

The prosecution told the court Dring was “extremely angry and ranting”, when she discovered a group of friends had followed Mr Henley’s balloon on to her farm and were drinking on her land without her permission.

She immediately told them to “get off my land”, before poking the barrels of the gun into Mr Henley’s chest.

Mrs Dring said she had admitted threatening Mr Henley with the gun, but added that she had no intention to fire the weapon or that she had taken the safety latch off.

Defence solicitors representing Dring argued she had reacted out of fear for her chickens, who could have been distressed by the landing balloon.

Dring, who has degrees in philosophy and criminology, will now spend 18 months in prison.