Man denies causing damage as Sycamore Gap tree felling accused appear in court in Newcastle

Daniel Graham, 38, and Adam Carruthers, 31, both from the Carlisle area, leaving Newcastle Magistrates' Court. Credit: PA

A man accused of felling the famous Sycamore Gap tree has denied charges of criminal damage.

Daniel Graham, 38, and Adam Carruthers, 31, appeared at Newcastle Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 15 May.

The pair, who arrived at court wearing balaclavas, faced two charges of criminal damage relating to the Sycamore Gap tree and Hadrian's Wall.

During the 15-minute hearing and with their face coverings removed, Graham, of Milbeck, Carlisle, entered pleas of not guilty, while Carruthers, of Church Street, Wigton, Cumbria, entered no pleas.

A court artist sketch of Daniel Graham, left, and Adam Carruthers, right, appearing in the dock at Newcastle Magistrates' Court. Credit: Elizabeth Cook/PA

One charge related to the criminal damage to property of a value over £5,000, namely “without lawful excuse, damaged a sycamore tree to the value of £622,191 belonging to the National Trust”.

They faced a second charge of criminal damage to property valued under £5,000, namely Hadrian’s Wall, with the damage assessed to the Unesco World Heritage Site as being £1,144.

Both offences were alleged to have been committed on 28 September last year.

At least 25 members of the media were in court for the hearing.

The Sycamore Gap tree was hailed to be one of the most photographed in the country. Credit: PA

District Judge Zoe Passfield declined jurisdiction, saying: “This case is too serious to be heard in the magistrates’ court.”

Graham and Carruthers were granted unconditional bail. They are due to appear next at Newcastle Crown Court on 12 June.

The much-photographed tree, which stood next to Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland for 200 years, was chopped down in September last year, causing national outrage.

Earlier, the judge said: “I am well aware that feelings are running high in respect to this case. Everyone, however, must remain silent.”

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