An actress is facing a massive £230,000 bill after falsely accusing her neighbour of luring one of her pigs over with doughnuts and having sex with it.
Sharon Hamilton, a 54-year-old actor who appeared in TV series Doc Martin, made the astonishing claim about her 73-year-old neighbour Anton Barkhuysen in the midst of an eight-year land dispute.
It led to the pensioner being arrested on New Year’s Day in 2013 and put through a ‘humiliating’ police investigation, which involved probing questions about his sex life and ‘intimate sampling’.
Barkhuysen, who is married and lives in Tregolls in Cornwall, was ultimately cleared of the bizarre offence and has been awarded £32,080 for false imprisonment, harassment and slander by Mr Justice Warby.
The payout, however, is tiny compared to the immense legal costs Hamilton will have to pay – around £200,000; Metro reports.
Justice Warby told the High Court that the allegations, which were also made to other villagers and a steward at the church Barkhuysen attended, amounted to slander. She also told people to watch their children around him.
‘Allegations of sexual offending against animals and against children are at the upper end of the scale of gravity,’ he said. ‘The pig allegation is not just improbable. Having heard all the evidence and argument, I am convinced that it is false. It was an invention by the defendant.’
Barkhuysen said he had had ‘five years of hell’ because of his disputes with Hamilton.
‘She had me arrested for having sexual intercourse with a pig, which was a complete pack of lies,’ he said. ‘The pig allegation is disgusting. I am well known in the village and it is horrifying to think about what people thought.
‘She even followed me into church to make that vile sexual allegation. My friends and family knew it wasn’t true but not everyone did. It could have cast doubt in people’s minds.’