AP – Crop Circle hoaxer Matthew Williams was found guilty of damage to property in Magistrates Court in the town of Devises in England today. He was fined 100 pounds and 40 pounds costs.

His defense was that Crop Circle researcher Michael Glickman had challenged him on Whitley Strieber’s Dreamland radio program to make a seven-starred circle. BBC World Service said that he had been goaded to action by an American radio program, whose host refused to believe that the best crop circles were hoaxed, and that the radio program turned him in to police.

The truth was that Michael Glickman told the farmer whose crops had been damaged of the e-mail that Mr. Williams had sent to Whitley Strieber stating that he intended to make the circle. The farmer then filed the complaint.

Mr. Strieber did not commission or solicit the crop circle’s construction in any way, was not aware of where it was constructed, and was at no time told that it might be constructed without the permission of the owner of the land on which the construction took place.

The circle was not convincing. It failed to prove that the complex circles are manmade. On the contrary, it was crude and suggested the opposite: that circlemakers can only produce awkward copies of the mysterious phenomena.

Crop circle researchers felt that the prosecution had further convinced a public already duped by media misinformation about the circles that they were indeed manmade. Researcher Rob Speight distributed an e-mail that was typical of their response.

“So, everyone is happy now are they?” Mr Speight wrote. “There can be no dispute now by ANYONE that there are hoaxed circles. Certain people have certainly shot themselves in the foot. By bringing Matthew’s formation into the public eye and having him successfully prosecuted has only strengthened the publics perspective that all formations are indeed hoaxes.”

However, it is possible that a more subtle game is afoot than that. British authorities have served notice that people are to stay out of farmers’ fields next season. Should the real circles appear again, the authorities and the media will have a hard time continuing to support the fiction that they are manmade hoaxes.

To read the Guardian’s story, click here.

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