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BNPS.co.uk (01202 558833)<br />
Pic: JonBeal/BNPS<br />
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The Hobbs six free range chickens.<br />
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A retired couple who panicked into selling battery eggs from outside their village home after their free-range hens stopped laying have been prosecuted for fraud.<br />
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For years, Stephen and Anne Hobbs left out cartons of eggs laid by their brood of chickens along with an honesty box for payment for customers at their front gate.<br />
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But when the birds stopped producing the tasty eggs last year after being worried by foxes Mr Hobbs, a former engineer, feared a drop in custom.<br />
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Over a period of months he bought 12,000 eggs from a battery farm and began passing them off as free range to people who stopped outside their home in the village of Three Legged Cross, Dorset.<br />
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But suspicions were raised after a member of the public noticed a sudden surge in production of eggs by Mr Hobbs' hens.