Man pleads not guilty to felling Northumberland’s Sycamore Gap tree

<span>Daniel Graham (C) and Adam Carruthers (R) outside Newcastle magistrates court on Wednesday.</span><span>Photograph: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images</span>
Daniel Graham (C) and Adam Carruthers (R) outside Newcastle magistrates court on Wednesday.Photograph: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

A man has pleaded not guilty to felling the Sycamore Gap tree in Northumberland and causing damage to Hadrian’s Wall last September.

Daniel Graham, 38, of Carlisle and Adam Carruthers, 31, of Wigton attended a hearing at Newcastle magistrates court on Wednesday after being charged with criminal damage for allegedly cutting down the tree.

Graham entered pleas of not guilty, while Carruthers entered no plea.

The 300-year-old sycamore was named England’s tree of the year in 2016. It featured in the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and was a popular site for stargazing and marriage proposals.

The criminal damage caused by chopping down the landmark has been valued at more than £620,000, according to court charges.

The defendants are also accused of causing £1,144 worth of damage to Hadrian’s Wall, a Unesco world heritage site, which was hit by the falling tree.

The district judge, Zoe Passfield, declined jurisdiction, saying: “This case is too serious to be heard in the magistrates court.”

The pair will attend Newcastle crown court on 12 June for their next hearing and they were both granted unconditional bail in the meantime.

Sycamore trees are native to continental Europe. Claims for exactly when they were introduced to the UK range from as early as the Roman empire to the Tudors in the 16th century.

A local man, Michael Palmer, told the Guardian: “Sycamore Gap is a Northumberland symbol, more than a piece of landscape, more than just a tree; it’s as instantly recognisable as the Palace of Westminster or the Liver Building.”

Northumberland national park has said the trunk of the sycamore will be put on display at the Sill. It has called on artists to come up with ideas for an exhibition to preserve the tree’s legacy.