Sycamore Gap: Man denies cutting down world famous tree during court appearance

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Two men accused of chopping down the famous Sycamore Gap tree have appeared in court for the first time.

Daniel Graham, 38, and Adam Carruthers, 31, from Cumbria, are alleged to have caused £622,191 worth of damage to the tree and £1,144 to Hadrian's Wall.

The pair appeared at Newcastle Magistrates Court this afternoon (Wednesday, May 15) each charged with two counts of criminal damage in relation to the tree and the wall, which is a World Heritage Site. 

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Graham, of Milbeck Stables, Carlisle, pleaded not guilty to both counts while his co-accused Carruthers, of Church Street, Wigton, entered no plea.

The pair, who both wore red ties, were pictured walking into court with balaclavas over their heads earlier today.

Daniel Graham (left) and Adam Carruthers appeared at Newcastle Magistrates' Court in connection with the felling of the Sycamore Gap tree. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire.Daniel Graham (left) and Adam Carruthers appeared at Newcastle Magistrates' Court in connection with the felling of the Sycamore Gap tree. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire.
Daniel Graham (left) and Adam Carruthers appeared at Newcastle Magistrates' Court in connection with the felling of the Sycamore Gap tree. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire.

Prosecutor Rebecca Brown told the court: "This is a case that will instantly be recognisable to you and anyone hearing the charges read.

"The tree that stood at Sycamore Gap was, the prosecution say, deliberately felled on the 28th of September last year.

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"The prosecution say these defendants are responsible as part of a joint enterprise."

Ms Brown said the value of the damage had been calculated by the CAVAT tool - which stands for Capital Asset Value for Amenity Trees.

The court heard the method takes into a number of different factors including the tree's size, type, and the impact on the community.

The pair will appear at Newcastle Crown Court next month.

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District Judge Zoe Passfield told the packed courtroom at the beginning of the hearing that she was aware feelings were "running high".

She later told the defendants: "This case is too serious to be heard in the Magistrates Court and I'm sending your case to Newcastle Crown Court.

The iconic Sycamore Gap tree was cut down in September 2023. Photo: Getty Images.The iconic Sycamore Gap tree was cut down in September 2023. Photo: Getty Images.
The iconic Sycamore Gap tree was cut down in September 2023. Photo: Getty Images.

"Your first hearing there will be on the 12th of June. You must attend no later than 9.30am.

"I grant you both unconditional bail. That means you must attend the court on that date."

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The tree, which was one of the most photographed in the world and appeared in the 1991 Robin Hood Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner, was felled in the early hours of September 28 last year sparking worldwide outrage. 

A man in his 60s and another male, aged 16, were arrested at the time but were later told they faced no further action.

After it was chopped down, workers from the National Trust and the Northumberland National Park Authority were able to recover young seeds from the site.

Conversationists confirmed earlier this month that the saplings are beginning to show shoots of life while they are kept at a secret location.