A MAN was fined for breaching a community protection notice in a dispute over land he is attempting to claim under the ancient Welsh tradition Tŷ unnos.

District Judge Stephen Harmes, sitting at Haverfordwest magistrates court, fined Matthew Christopher for breaching the CPN, which was made in relation to Christopher’s ownership claims of land in and around Little Milford Woods.

The notice was made in January 2020 and prohibited Christopher, 34, of approaching residents within an area which was set from the village of Hook across to Johnston.

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Christopher - who has also used the name King Arthwyst - was ordered not to intimidate people, or deface gates, signs, bridleways, and landmarks.

He was also ordered to only contact police and emergency services in an emergency.

It was in relation to this that Christopher was called to appear in court yesterday, June 20.

Christopher faced four charges of failing to comply with the notice.

On January 10, Christopher was alleged to have sent emails to the police and tied a gate closed.

On January 11 and 12, Christopher was alleged to have contacted police, and on January 14 he was alleged to have sent a letter to a person who resides within the community protection notice area.

The trial went ahead in Christopher’s absence, after he failed to appear in court.

It began with crown prosecutor Nia James claiming that when Christopher was originally served the notice he rejected it, calling it ‘null and void’.

Days later Christopher is alleged to have broke the notice by sending one of the complainants a letter which began; ‘I Arthwyst have on several occasions been in police custody on false allegations’.

The letter went on to say that ‘Arthwyst’, aka Christopher, had served "affidavits" and "fines" to people, including to the police for arresting him.

The claims of “King Arthwyst”, read out in court at pre-trial hearing in march, are as follows: 

Christopher says he follows the “law” of Tŷ unnos.

Tŷ unnos is a Welsh tradition which says if a person can build a house on common land in one night, the land then belongs to them as a freehold.

Other variations on the tradition are that the test of ownership is if a fire burns in a hearth by the following morning then the squatter can extend the land around by the distance they can throw an axe from the four corners of the house.

Christopher claims that common land which is unused can be claimed, which he did, referring to the disputed land as his ‘royal residence’ of ‘Kingdom Cymru’ and that he was ‘King Arthwyst the First’.

Ms James went on to call witnesses including complainant Paul Pugh, who lives within the notice area and who has confronted Christopher in the past.

Mr Pugh described to the court how Christopher’s behaviour is making it difficult and dangerous to use the land – Mr Pugh has grazing rights with Pembrokeshire County Council, however Christopher has interfered with this, chaining up gates and releasing livestock.

Complainant Paul Pugh on his run-ins with “King Arthwyst the First”:

“It has been a bit rough on us. All the damage he has done, cutting the chains off gates then he puts his own chains on. He can be up in trees shouting down at people. He has “fined” me £30,000 and sent me 14 letters in the post.”

The National Wales: In red, the area the community protection notice covers. Within the yellow circle is land Christopher is trying to claimIn red, the area the community protection notice covers. Within the yellow circle is land Christopher is trying to claim

Ms James then called PC Schofield as a witness who was part of the team that received emails from Christopher issuing "affidavits" and "fines".

On one occasion, after being arrested on Pembroke Road for breaching conditions of the notice, Christopher "fined" the arresting officers £20,000 and a further £1,000 for every hour he was in the cells – in that instance Christopher claimed he was in the cells for seven hours.

Judge Harmes then asked Officer Schofield, ‘have you paid any of the fines?’ To which she answered no.

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The community protection notice served to Christopher on January 2020 by Dyfed-Powys Police was as follows:

1.Must not approach or communicate with any residents, to include their residential/business properties, who reside within the highlighted area on the map.

2. Must not obstruct or intimidate any persons using footpaths and adjacent land within a five-mile area of the Cleddau River.

3. Must not deface, mark, damage, tie or obstruct any posts, signs, gates, fences, bridleways, footpaths, or any natural landmarks such as trees and rocks by any means within a five-mile area of the Cleddau River.

4. Must not contact police or other emergency services unless in a genuine emergency requiring police attention or to report a crime.

5. Must not report by any means any further crimes relating to your alleged claim of ownership of the land marked in yellow on the map.

After the prosecution made their case, with Christopher not in attendance, Judge Harmes went straight to sentencing.

Christopher had previously pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Judge Harmes dismissed charges one, two and three, however found Christopher guilty of charge four – contacting Dyfed Powys Police contact centre on two occasions on January 12.

For this, Christopher was fined £120 and made to pay costs of £620 and a surcharge of £34.