Man pleads not guilty to chopping down one of Britain's most famous trees


A general view of the stars above Sycamore Gap prior to the Perseid Meteor Shower above Hadrian's Wall near Bardon Mill, England in Aug 2015. Two men have been charged with causing criminal damage for cutting down a popular 150-year-old tree next to Hadrian's Wall, prosecutors in Britain said. Photo: AP

A 38-year-old man on Wednesday denied criminal damage, after one of Britain's most-loved and photographed trees was found cut down next to the Hadrian's Wall Unesco World Heritage site.

Daniel Graham entered a not guilty plea to causing £622,191 (US$786,657) worth of damage to the sycamore tree at Sycamore Gap, which had stood for more than 200 years in the Northumberland National Park.

The tree, located in a dramatic dip in the landscape and which featured in the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, was found felled in September last year, causing national outrage.

Graham also denied causing £1,144 worth of damage to Hadrian's Wall, the ancient Roman fortification which stretches 118km from northwest to northeast England.

He appeared before a court in Newcastle upon Tyne with Adam Carruthers, 31, who did not enter pleas to the same charges. Both wore balaclavas to hide their identities as they arrived and left court.

Both were released on unconditional bail until a further hearing on June 12.

The tree, which was a symbol of northeast England, won the Woodland Trust's Tree of the Year in 2016 and was a key attraction photographed by millions of visitors over the years.

It was found felled after storms, with white paint marks on its stump, as if cleanly cut, AFP reporters at the scene said at the time.

Efforts are now under way to see if the tree can be regrown from its stump or saplings from its seeds.

Hadrian's Wall was begun in 122 AD during the reign of emperor Hadrian, and marked the boundary between Roman Britannia and unconquered Caledonia to the north. - AFP

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Heritage , Britain , Tree , History , cut down , criminal damage


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