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‘It looked like a bomb site’ - stately home owner accused of destroying 80-year-old tenant’s garden, court hears

PUBLISHED: 14:43 13 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:43 13 December 2017

Roger Gawn was found not guilty of criminal damage after removing plants, trees and shrubs belonging to his tenant. Photo : Steve Adams

Roger Gawn was found not guilty of criminal damage after removing plants, trees and shrubs belonging to his tenant. Photo : Steve Adams

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2015

An 80-year-old’s garden was left looking like a “bomb site” after the owner of a Norfolk stately home allegedly destroyed trees, shrubs and plants to the value of more than £3,500, a court heard.

Roger Gawn, 70, the owner of Melton Constable Hall, denied criminal damage to the value of £3,575.02 during a trial which started at King’s Lynn Magistrates’ Court this morning (Wednesday, December 13).

He has been accused of destroying trees, shrubs and plants belonging to his 80-year-old tenant Robert Adams, on March 26, 2016.

Prosecutor Fred Sagoe said there is a dispute between the two parties of whether Gawn was entitled to do what he did and whether it was reasonable in the circumstances.

When cross examined by Gawn’s solicitor, Simon Nicholls, Mr Adams was asked whether he was aware of any Japanese knotweed growing in the garden, to which he replied that he hadn’t until after his garden was destroyed.

Mr Nicholls told the court that the knotweed is a “pernicious” plant and that it is an offence for anyone to plant it or allow it to grow.

Giving evidence in court, Mr Adams said he has rented Coach House in Melton Constable for 46 years and has been tending the garden ever since.

He told the court Gawn had not notified him about removing the plants, trees and shrubs in his garden, which he said he planted himself.

“I created the garden with my then wife,” Mr Adams said. “The grass grew and I continued to mow it, and it improved.

“As time went on we created borders which we kept flowers in, we planted trees and things progressed, nothing was done immediately.

“More often than not I was complimented by Roger Gawn about how well I kept it.”

On the day in question, Mr Adams said he went to the shops for about 20mins.

When returned, he noticed the garden had been destroyed.

“There was nothing left in the garden, it looked like a bomb site. The lawn didn’t exist anymore, there were holes where the trees had been, there were lumps of earth and craters all over the place.

“It would have been fair for Mr Gawn to send me a letter to state his intentions,” he added.

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