OAP’s trial is adjourned
A RETIRED police officer has denied six charges, including swinging a chainsaw with its engine running while staring at neighbours, uttering threats and shouting offensive remarks, and staring at the head teacher of the village primary school in an intimidating manner, which all allegedly took place after a family falling-out.
Thomas Allan Kirsop, 76, of Brudair, North Ballachulish, also denies engaging in conduct which caused a husband and wife fear and alarm by following the wife’s car, pulling alongside; banging into her at the village primary school; sending an anonymous letter containing a newspaper clipping; placing signs with an offensive slogan on a boundary fence.
The offences are alleged to have taken place between January 1, 2015 and May 29, 2016.
Kirsop also pleaded not guilty to behaving in a threatening or abusive manner on September 7, 2014, outside an Onich address by shouting, swearing and uttering offensive remarks towards the householder; repeatedly parking outside a local village store and staring at the occupants in an intimidating manner, and on August 28, 2015, in Glenahulish, shouting, swearing and uttering offensive remarks to a man who lived there.
During the jury trial the husband told the court that Kirsop had turned against them after another member of the family ‘accused me of pinching a child’s go-kart seat’.
He said an anonymous letter arrived containing a newspaper cutting about a buggy stolen from a course.
‘My wife recognised the handwriting,’ he said, adding that ‘it was probably trying to relate something to do with a go-kart’.
The man, who lives in the property adjoining Kirsop’s, said he found a sign on the boundary between their homes which read: ‘keep out snakes, lying rats and slugs’. He said: ‘I wanted to take it down before my son saw it. I pulled it off with a crowbar’.
When cross-examined by Clare Russell, Kirsop’s solicitor, the man admitted that during one of the confrontations he had ‘gently pushed’ Kirsop.
‘A lot of what you have told us is assumption; you are assuming he put the sign up. You are assuming he sent the letter,’ she said.
Kirsop did not give evidence at the trial but his wife and daughter did.
Mrs Mairi Kirsop said that relations between the two families had been ‘very convivial’ at first but ‘there was a family dispute over a go-kart and the relationship changed completely’.
The couple’s daughter said the incident where her father allegedly banged into the woman – who is her sister-in-law – did not happen in the way that had been stated. She said: ‘ She lunged across the pavement and rammed into my dad’s shoulder. I was horrified. Speechless.’
Kirsop’s wife spoke of ‘a continual onslaught [from the other family] which is affecting us so badly’.
When police called at their home about the chainsaw, she said: ‘I was stunned because of the allegations made against him; that he was brandishing a chainsaw. I was in the garden close to him.’ She told the court that her husband had been cutting down overgrown shrubbery.
A woman who visited the couple with her young child told the court she saw Kirsop ‘facing into [their] garden just holding a chainsaw with it running. He was just stood at the hedge. I looked and I waved but he didn’t acknowledge.’
She said: ‘I knew there was animosity between the two families. It didn’t seem right what Mr Kirsop was doing. I thought he might be doing it to try and annoy them.’
The head teacher of St Bride’s Primary in North Ballachulish also gave evidence at the trial. She told the court: ‘When a child doesn’t feel confident enough to walk out of the school gate and go home it is worthy of note and I took a professional decision the police should be notified of this.’
The court heard that Kirsop had been waiting outside the school to collect another pupil but did not leave and stood staring when the other child came out.
Watching from inside the school, the head teacher said: ‘The child was standing still and seemed anxious. He was looking at Mr Kirsop and Mr Kirsop had focused on the child.’ She went outside to ask the child to go home. She said: ‘He was not for moving; he was not going home.’
The child stepped slightly behind her and Kirsop continued to stand and stare at them both. As Kirsop left, he kept turning round and looking back. ‘I stood my ground at the gate,’ she said, adding that this was the ‘culmination of months and months’ of staff having to monitor and make sure there was a gap between the times pupils left the school.
But Kirsop’s solicitor said he had been reading the school notice board and talking to the child he had collected.
Sheriff William Taylor QC has now heard the prosecution and defence cases; the trial was adjourned until June 12 when each will give their closing submissions and he will give his verdict.