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Friday, 13 September, 2002, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Jailed fence row woman 'fights on'
Samantha Richards with her mother Teresa outside the jail
Samantha Richards met her mother, Teresa, outside jail
A Shropshire woman jailed in a dispute with her neighbour over a fence, has been released after serving six weeks of a three-month sentence.

Horse breeder Samantha Richards, 27, vowed to continue her court battle over the fence, which has lasted seven years and cost 100,000 in legal fees.

She had repeatedly failed to comply with court orders to move the fence near her home at Tranquillity Cottage, Hopesay, Shropshire.

Miss Richards was jailed at Birmingham County Court on 1 August for contempt of court.

The disputed fence
There has been a seven-year battle over the fence
Outside Drake Hall prison, she was met by her mother, 54-year-old Teresa Richards.

"I am just so relieved, really," she said.

"I can't wait to see my dogs and the horses."

"I've got to keep fighting for my land. It's mine and I will keep fighting for it."

Miss Richards has lodged an appeal against her prison sentence.

Her mother said: "The longer it goes on the more determined it makes us."

Teresa Richards said it was an emotional reunion.

"She just hugged me and burst into tears.

"She is OK, she was so excited about coming out and I was so happy."

Miss Richards headed straight to Telford, Shropshire, to visit her grandmother who is in hospital.


Unless she comes to her senses and pulls the fence down she's going to end up back in prison

Tony Benson
The case came to court following a seven-year dispute with her neighbour, Tony Benson, over a 3ft-wide strip of land.

There were 20 court hearings dealing with the dispute.

The row centred on a 300ft (100-metre) long fence put up by Miss Richards in 1995 on her six-acre plot of land, costing 12,000.

Mr Benson demanded that the fence was removed but Miss Richards refused, claiming her property was included in an ancient statute protecting enclosure land.

After her release Mr Benson said: "Samantha's come out of prison, I really hope she doesn't have to go back again.

"But unless she comes to her senses and pulls the fence down that's where she's going to end up, back in prison."

'Greek tragedy'

Both neighbours originally appeared before Telford County Court in May 1998, when the judge ruled in Mr Benson's favour.

Miss Richards appealed against the decision but the Appeal Court in London upheld the original verdict in 1999.

At the 19th hearing Telford County Court found Miss Richards guilty of contempt for not removing the fence.

Her mother was also found guilty of aiding and abetting her.

Jailing her Judge Caroline Alton described the affair as "a tragedy of Greek proportions" but said she had no option but to send Miss Richards to prison.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC West Midlands Today's Catherine Mackie
"Mr Benson says the fence is inside his land. The Richards insist it no longer exists"

Click here to go to BBC Shropshire
See also:

29 Aug 02 | England
01 Aug 02 | England
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