AN Ollerton farmer has expressed his relief after charges he faced for allegedly sexually assaulting two women were dropped when prosecutors found new evidence.

Andrew Callwood, of Manor Farm, Seven Sisters Lane, was due to stand trial at Chester Crown Court on Monday charged with common assault and two charges of sexual assault on women who cannot be named for legal reasons.

As the trial was about to begin evidence was supplied to the court about the two women who had made the allegation.

Prosecutors told the judge, Roger Dutton, about the new evidence, which was in the form of Facebook messages and text messages, and the judge said: “You have made me aware of a body of new material, that I have seen, that rightly puts a different complexion on the case.”

As a result the two charges of sexual assault were dropped.

Callwood admitted the charge of common assault, which the court was told involved him pulling the hair of one of the women.

The assault occurred on January 16 when one of the women was doing work at the livery yard at Manor Farm and asked Callwood not to be there.

However he ignored that request, and when she turned up she got out of her car and locked it. The defendant grabbed her by the hair and dragged her inside the house, where he ordered her to take off her shoes.

Callwood’s defence team suggested that a suitable punishment would be a fine or conditional discharge.

Judge Dutton added: “You shouldn't have behaved in the way that you did but thankfully there was no injury sustained.”

Callwood was fined £250 and was ordered to pay £90 in costs.

Callwood told the Guardian on Tuesday that his business, a livery yard based at his home, had suffered as a result of the court case hanging over his head.

“It has been soul-destroying,” he said.

“I feel I owe it to the community and my friends who have stood by me and those who have doubted me. I’ve lived with the fear of going to prison for the past 10 months.”