View Full Version : Trial verdict at Wick court

26-Sep-12, 08:19
Fishery trio were engaged in theft of wood from my land - claims farmer

A CAITHNESS farmer/landowner told a court that he confronted three men he claimed were stealing wood from his land but strenuously denied he assaulted them.
James Sutherland was giving evidence when his trial resumed at Wick Sheriff Court this week.
He was accused of assaulting elderly fishery manager Christopher Brocklebank-Fowler, 78. woodcutter, Anthony Carberry and handyman Philip Adshead, both aged 35, on a wooded track.
They previously told the court that they were acting on a request from Highland Council to remove the lower section of a wind-blown conifer blocking the track, on April 12 and had nearly finished the task when Sutherland appeared “in an agitated state”.
The trio said that the accused had hit Mr Brocklebank-Fowler three times with a branch, grabbed hold of Mr Carberry and manhandled Mr Ashead.
While the case centred on the alleged incidents, a right-of-way issue surfaced and it was claimed that the tree was being disposed of because it was blocking the path from the Forss House Hotel to the cottage Mr Brocklebank-Fowler rents from Sutherland.
The sole witness for the defence, he said that he had gone to attend to sheep lambing on his land on the Forss estate when he encountered the trio engaged in cutting logs using a power saw.
Sutherland (52 said: “Mr Brocklebank-Fowler asked what I was doing there. I asked him what he was doing on my land and told him they shouldn’t be there and I was going for the police. They were stealing my wood.”
Solicitor Graham Mann asked: “Has there been differences about the parcel of land, Mr Brocklebank-Fowler uses the track to get access from his cottage to the hotel?”
Sutherland: “Mr Brocklebank-Fowler has an issue with it...no-one else has.”
Asked if there was any explanation for the accusations of assault, Sutherland replied: “I had caught them red-handed, stealing wood on my property” and added that there was “absolutely no truth whatsoever in the allegations. He revealed that the tree had not fallen across the path but was one, he had placed across it.
Mr Mann asked if the parcel of land had been the subject of considerable discussion and disagreement in the last two or three years.
Sutherland replied: “Mr Brocklebank-Fowler has an issue about it...no-one else has.”
Cross-examined by senior fiscal depute David Barclay, Sutherland denied having lost his temper on the day in question. Replying to a further question, the accused said that the wood being cut up had only a slight monetary value but added: “It is a matter of principle...theft is theft.”
Sheriff Andrew Berry, who retired to consider his verdict, found Sutherland guilty on all three counts.
He said that there was clearly a background of some disagreement as to what the three victims were entitled to do and added: “I am going to allow a passage of time to ensure that any heat in the atmosphere is dispersed if it has not already done so.”
Deferring sentence for six months to also allow Sutherland to demonstrate he can behave the sheriff added: “You are clearly a man with a settled lifestyle and there is no reason to suppose that behaviour such as this, will happen again. “