Tracy St Clair Pearce, 50, who lives at Seven Saints Rare Breeds Farm near Colchester, told the four youths that she would spray them with weedkiller if they did not leave immediately.

According to Miss St Claire Pearce, the travellers responded by threatening her with their chainsaw, before one of them shouted: ?I will slit your throat, I will slit the throats of your calves and cows.?

They then allegedly threw stones at her and exposed themselves while shouting obscenities.

However, after reporting the incident to the police, officers took action against Miss St Clair Pearce rather than the travellers.

Three days after the incident, officers arrived at her farm to confiscate her legally held 12-bore shotgun and another firearm.

A spokesman for Essex police said: ?Officers became concerned at the behaviour of a woman and laid information before magistrates accordingly. They were given powers to seize guns in her possession and have done so as a sensible precaution in the circumstances.?

But Miss St Claire Pearce, who has held a shotgun certificate for 20 years, disagreed.

She said: ?I?m at a loss for words. I phoned them because I was the victim and I thought they would come and help me, simple as that. How can the travellers come and trespass on my land, damage my property, threaten me, and I am the one in the wrong??

The incident occurred the day after 18 caravans set up camp illegally in a field owned by Colchester Borough Council.