FOR once it wasn't a judge who had the last word.

Instead an angry witness who harboured a far from 'tug your forelocks' attitude towards the aristocracy, delivered a swift riposte.

Richard Deller had been a key witness in an action brought by the Duke of Buckingham who was suing a Hampshire brewer in 1825 for allegedly trespassing on his land in search of game.

Where he had been found was never in dispute, the issue centered on who was occupying it.

The defendant, a man called Overington was a friend of Deller who rented a farm on Buckingham's sprawling estate at Avington, near Winchester.

Overington had been discovered with a dog and a firearm in a close at the neighbouring hamlet of Easton.

The brewer, who conducted his own defence, was shrewd in his cross-examination of witnesses who each confirmed no damage had been committed.

Addressing the jury, Overington was fire and brimstone, denouncing the case as paltry and purely framed to fill the pockets of the Duke's avaricious attornies at his expense.

"Common rules of action for common people are not the rules for the great world," he scorned. "They are content with the game on their own immense possessions but they must grasp at all produced on the grounds of their neighbours, and because the game laws, which I consider much too severe, are not sufficient for the purpose, the trespass laws are called to their aim.

"It is clear these proceedings have been instituted to satisfy a craving, vitiated taste for game. It is most cruel and tyrannical."

Overington sought to prove the land in question was in the occupancy of Buckingham's steward who paid the rates, though they were made out in his employer's name. Parish records, he claimed, supported that.

However, not only did Overington fail to establish that point but his stance also raised the ire of the Duke's lawyer - " It's an absolute disgrace" - and that of Mr Justice Burrough who condemned his conduct as "reprehensible in the highest degree. Had any member of the Bar used similar language I would have compelled him to sit down."

As to the law, he told jurors it was not necessary to prove damage in a trespass.

"No man has a right on the land of another without permission. The law holds trespass as to be the invasion of another premises."

The outcome was inevitable, telling jurors: "The defence has completely failed."

Following a short deliberation, jurors naturally followed the judge's direction and awarded the Duke damages amounting to a token £2.

The case however concluded with a sharp exchange of views, with the judge warning Deller of the consequences of inviting people to kill the Duke's game.

"You will be in difficulties."

An indigant Deller replied: "I will bring as many as I can unless the Duke pays for the damages destroyed by his game."

And with that he and Overington stormed out of court.