A parish council chair feared his life was “in peril” when he was attacked by an “out of control” businessman during a dispute about birds’ nests in a quiet village, a court has heard.

Magistrates were shown mobile phone footage of an incident in the North Yorkshire village of Church Fenton in which local resident Andrew Mason, 63, can be seen in front of a tree-cutting cherry-picker as Chris Makin, 65, tries to drag him by his clothes and hair.

Prosecutors at Harrogate Magistrates Court on Thursday described how, before the footage begins, Makin had poked Mr Mason in the face, knocking off his glasses, and then “thrown him to the floor in a kind of headlock”.Darlington and Stockton Times: Andrew Mason in front of a tree-cutting cherry-picker as Chris Makin tries to drag him by his

Michael Smith, prosecuting, said: “The defendant scooped Mr Mason’s hair into his hands and tried to pull him across the road by his hair.”

In the video, Mr Mason is seen lying on the floor and can be heard shouting “get off me” and “the police are on their way, you lunatic” as well as calling Makin an “ignorant bully” as the defendant swears at him.

Mr Smith told the court that, at one point, Makin appears to instruct his workmen to move the cherry picker forward as Mr Mason is lying in front of it and the defendant can be heard on the video saying “forward a bit”.

In a victim personal statement read to the court, Mr Mason said that, at that point, he thought “my life is in peril”.Darlington and Stockton Times: video of local resident Andrew Mason in front of a tree-cutting cherry-picker as Chris Makin tries

Also in his statement, the Church Fenton Parish Council chairman expressed dismay that he “could be viciously attacked in broad daylight in the village I love and where I have brought up my children”.

The court heard that Mr Mason had endured a number of stress-related issues since the attack and suffered sleepless nights.

He said in his statement that he was also left shocked by the foul language used by Makin in front of a number of onlookers.

The prosecutor told magistrates how the incident happened on April 4 2023 when a group of local residents gathered to try to stop contractors working for Makin, who owns the nearby Leeds East Airport, “crowning” trees.

Mr Smith said they were concerned about the birds and that he did not have permission to remove nests nor close the road.

Police had been called earlier and had advised Makin to stop work but the officers had left by the time the assault happened.

Mr Smith told the three magistrates that the defendant used “unreasonable and unnecessary” force after Mr Mason “positioned himself under the cherry-picker” to stop it cutting any more of the trees.

The prosecutor said the defendant had not shown any remorse.

Makin, of Micklefield, North Yorkshire, was found guilty of assault by beating at an earlier trial.

On Thursday, chair of the bench Phil Morris said it was an assault of a “persistent and prolonged nature” and fined him £4,800.

He said this was 250% of his weekly income.

Makin was also ordered to pay a £1,920 surcharge, £775 costs and £684 compensation to Mr Mason.

Richard Wright KC, defending, said his client had “learned a salutary lesson” and told the court he had made a “massive contribution to the GDP of the UK”.

Mr Wright said Makin was “used to getting on with things and getting a job done in the public interest.

“He wanted to get this job done but went about it the wrong way.”Darlington and Stockton Times: video of local resident Andrew Mason in front of a tree-cutting cherry-picker as Chris Makin tries

Speaking outside the court, Mr Mason said: “We live in a lovely, quiet, little rural village in North Yorkshire and I was going down to the community shop to help my wife. I’ve been a parish councillor for 15 years and I believe in society and I believe in civil order and that broke down on that Sunday morning.

“And it broke down, I believe, because there is a bully who was there who wanted to do what he wanted to do, regardless of anybody getting in his way and I think that’s wrong.

“It was terrifying to be slumped underneath the cherry picker with a man who I believed was out of control, instructing the cherry picker operator to drive over the top of me. It’s chilling. There’s no two ways about it.”

Mr Mason said: “During the trial, one of the witnesses said that he believed that he witnessed what appeared to be an attempted murder, because had that cherry picker moved forward two feet then I would have died.

“I think his behaviour was scurrilous, I think he’s a bully, and I think justice has been served. His good name no longer exists.”