View Full Version : Farm tenancy issue surfaces in court case

26-Jan-12, 20:03
Seventy-year-old claims he was abused....accused alleges that incident was 'an ambush' and 'a conspiracy'

AN elderly Caithness farmer claimed he was subjected to abuse when he met a neighbour on a path linking their crofts on a summer’s night
Guy Wallace accused George Rodenhurst of shouting and swearing at him and questioning his farming ability. Rodenhurst (60) denied this at a trial, this week, during which he alleged there was a conspiracy to force him out of his tenancy,
Mr Wallace, of Oliclet Farm, Thrumster, told Wick Justice of the Peace Court that he had decided to take his Suzuki jeep to Thrumster Mains, on June 5, to collect some sheep and telephoned estate director, Islay Macleod to provide an escort down the path from his farm to the road. They are partners in Oliclet Farm.
He explained that the escort was necessary because of past difficulty he had experienced with Rodenurst, who runs a croft at Brickigoe.
Mr Wallace told the Justices that he was confronted by Rodenhurst standing in the middle of the path, forcing him to stop. The accused had been tending his cattle in a field but climbed over a fence onto the path when he saw Mr Wallace approach.
Mr Wallace (70) said that Rodenhurst leaned over the bonnet of his jeep, placing both hands on it and shouted at him, demanding to know-‘Are you going to phone the police or do you want to get beaten up again?’ There was further abuse from the accused who used foul language.”
When Islay Macleod and her daughter arrived on the scene, said Mr Wallace, the accused claimed that he and Mr Wallace had simply been having “a conversation” and proceeded to walk away.
Asked how he felt about the incident, Mr Wallace said it wasn’t the sort of treatment he expected at his time of life. He denied casting aspertions on the accused’s farming ability.
Cross-examined by David Gibb, for Rodenhurst, Mr Wallace denied that he and the Macleods had staged “an ambush” to get the accused into trouble.
Islay Macleod, of Thrumster House told the court that when her daughter and herself arrived on the scene, Rodenhurst was leaning over the bonnet of Mr Wallace’s vehicle “shouting loudly”. She said she didn’t remember exactly what was said, but the comments included swear words.
Ms Macleod said that Rodenhurst had not heard her four-by-four approaching and when he became aware of it, the accused came round to the driver’s window claiming Mr Wallace and him had been having a conversation.
Cross-examined, by Mr Gibb about the Brickigoe tenancy, Ms Macleod said she had been “unhappy” about the way the tenancy had been handled and alleged that the normal procedure in such cases had not been followed. She said she had complained to the Crofters Commission and confirmed a letter dated May 15, 2008, she had sent the accused, refusing to accept rent from him and returning his cheque. Rent for the holding had not been accepted by her for a period of two years.
Ms Macleod denied saying to Rodenhurst, after she arrived at the incident scene, that she would get Brickigoe Croft back, his stock would be removed and she would ensure he went to jail. She said that if the accused was removed from the croft, it would be through the proper, land court channels.
Her daughter, Catherine, corroborated her mother’s account of the incident on the path, saying that Rodenhurst was “being quite abusive”.
Commenting on Rodenhurst’s remarks to her mother that he and Wallace were simply having a conversation, “a friendly exchange”, Ms Macleod replied to senior fiscal depute David Barclay that it wasn’t her impression.
Rodenhurst, who gave his address as Bruan Park, Ulbster, stated that he was also a crofter at Brickigoe. Giving his version of the encounter with Mr Wallace, the accused said that they questioned each other’s farming abilities and he continued: “ Mr Wallace said he had been farming since 1956. I laughed at that and this annoyed him.”
Rodenhurst asked Mr Gibb, how he would like it if someone told him he was no good as a solicitor.”
Mr Gibb replied: “Some people have said that before now, but I am still here”.
Rodenhurst continued: “It was just as stupid conversation between two stupid people” and denied having sworn or made threats.
He alleged the Macleods were lying because they “would do anything to get rid of me, from Brickigoe”. The accused claimed Isla Macleod had refused to meet him to discuss the question of Brickigoe.
Re-examined by Mr Barclay, Rodenhurst reiterated his claim that there was a conspiracy afoot and added that the Macleods either wanted to get him out of his croft “through harassment”, or” make me so fed up that I would leave”.
Rodenhurst was found guilty of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner, shouting and swearing and making threats and had sentence deferred for six months to allow him to demonstrate he could behave himself.