Suffolk petting farm owner Olivia Boland speaks after being cleared of ...

Widow Olivia Boland's 16-acre smallholding is a little slice of animal lovers' heaven. 

Buttercups glow in the sun-dappled meadows and, apart from the squawking of peahens and the occasional hum from llamas, it is hard to imagine a more peaceful setting.

This mini animal kingdom, not far from the busy A14 in the Suffolk countryside, is home to 12 llamas, 11 alpacas, seven donkeys, four horses, two Shetland ponies, six pygmy goats, seven mini pigs, four emus, peacocks, chickens, geese and one swan.

Every summer, proud Olivia opens the gates of Tostock Animal Park to the public where, for a small fee, families can pet ducklings and rabbits and enjoy free children's donkey rides.

The fracas was caught on camera and the footage shown to police, who shockingly arrested both women

Suffolk petting farm owner Olivia Boland, 63 (pictured far right) was defending herself against Emma Foster, 38 (left and centre right) when tensions over travellers on her land reached breaking point. The fracas was caught on camera and shown to police 

'I love animals,' says mother-of-three Olivia, 63, who gently talks to them as if they were her own children. 

'You look into their eyes and there is an unspoken connection.' If only the same were true of humans. 

When Olivia bought this rural haven in 2016, she never dreamed it would become the backdrop to a two-year battle with residents on a neighbouring travellers' site, which last year descended into an ugly brawl.

Nor that she would end up being charged by police with a public order offence after defending herself when fraught relations reached boiling point — resulting in a fracas which saw Olivia dragged to the ground and, she claims, hit on the head with a pink sandal.

She thought that video evidence — partly captured on phone camera by Olivia's son Peter, 37, and showing her grappling with Emma Foster, 38, over a traveller's horse which had strayed onto her land — would result in decisive police action following her desperate 999 call for help.

It certainly did. But not in the way she expected.

Olivia Boland (pictured on her Suffolk farm) did not expect police to charge her after she repeatedly complained about Foster's traveller gang being anti-social over a two-year period 

Olivia Boland (pictured on her Suffolk farm) did not expect police to charge her after she repeatedly complained about Foster's traveller gang being anti-social over a two-year period 

On viewing the footage, which shows Foster — face contorted with rage as she lunges towards 5ft tall Olivia — officers reportedly accused the shocked farm owner of fighting back, when she should have 'walked away'.

This, despite Olivia having lodged more than 30 complaints with police over a two-year period against her neighbours, including allegations of trespass, criminal damage, racial abuse, fly-tipping, threats and harassment.

Earlier this month, both women ended up side by side in Norwich magistrates' court charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause a person to believe that unlawful violence would be used against them. Both denied the charges.

Magistrates dismissed the case against Olivia, but Emma Foster was convicted. 

She was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £100 compensation to Mrs Boland, a £20 victim surcharge and £200 prosecution costs.

Vindicated Olivia is still smarting over the humiliating episode.

'The video recording showed I didn't do anything except calmly stand up for myself and refuse to be bullied,' says the mother-of-three.

Emma Foster (pictured  during the altercation left) was convicted of a public order offence, while Mrs Boland  (right) was cleared 

Emma Foster (pictured  during the altercation left) was convicted of a public order offence, while Mrs Boland  (right) was cleared 

'They could hear me being attacked during my 999 call, with the travellers shouting in the background. I asked them, how can calling 999 be deemed as threatening or abusive behaviour?

'I told the police, 'I'm only 5ft tall. I'm not scared of them, so why are you scared?' I was the victim in this. I was attacked on my own land, but it felt as if I was the one being punished.'

Her son Peter, who also works on the farm, adds: 'I was absolutely disgusted when my mum was charged. 

She is a diminutive, elderly lady. She is not a big, strong person and it was sickening seeing her being attacked.

'It was a tremendous relief when the case was dismissed, but she should never have been charged in the first place. 

'This has been hanging over us for eight months, which has been stressful and traumatic.'

On the day I visit, all is now thankfully calm at Tostock Animal Parks.

There is no sight of the travellers who Olivia claims have made her life a misery with what she calls a campaign to force her out after she refused their request to buy some of her land and then denied them the access they'd previously enjoyed under the former owners.

Before Olivia bought the land from a family who'd moved away from the area, it had been used for weekend car part sales, but otherwise the travellers kept their horses there.

Mrs Boland (pictured) was left stunned by the police charges and blames the authorities for being too 'scared' of the traveller group 

Mrs Boland (pictured) was left stunned by the police charges and blames the authorities for being too 'scared' of the traveller group 

A makeshift plank bridge crossed the wide, water-filled ditch which separates the travellers' site from her land and provided them with access, until Olivia removed it — triggering further bad feeling.

Olivia feared the bridge was also being used by persons unknown —from outside the vicinity — to fly tip trade waste on their land causing a health hazard and rat infestations.

Last week, no one at the Broadgrass Green permanent travellers' site near Bury St Edmunds — where a handful of families live in brick-built bungalows — wanted to talk about the Bolands.

But Olivia — a vivid character in bright red lipstick, floral trousers and gold top — has plenty to say about what she sees as the almost protected status of traveller communities, when conflict arises between them and other sections of society.

'When we first met, the travellers were very nice to me until they couldn't get what they wanted,' she says. 

'But the only way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them. If only the police had been standing behind me.'

Born in Taiwan, Olivia — who moved to Britain in 1979 with her late husband Tony Boland, a British civil engineer 29 years her senior — says she's the kind of woman who sticks up for what she believes is right.

She says she expected more from Suffolk Police. Indeed, she's now launching a crowd-funding website to fund private prosecutions — for others as well as herself — for situations such as this.

As chairman of the Chinese Association in Suffolk, she describes

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