Police make second arrest over famous tree’s felling

Outrage after ancient tree cut down

Police investigating the clandestine axing of a historic British tree have made a second arrest over what they have called a “deliberate act of vandalism”.

The so-called Sycamore Gap tree, which had stood for hundreds of years near the Roman landmark of Hadrian’s Wall in England’s north-east, was cut down last Wednesday night (local time).

On Thursday, Northumbria Police arrested a 16-year-old boy. He was released on bail on Friday, pending further inquiries.

About the same time, police said a man in his 60s had also been arrested in connection with the mysterious felling. He remains in custody.

They have not revealed the connection, if any, between the older man and the teenager.

The Sycamore Tree was also known as the “Robin Hood Tree” after featuring in the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. It had stood in a natural dip in the otherwise treeless, sweeping landscape alongside Hadrian’s Wall.

Photographs showed the tree, throught to have been planted somewhere between 1860 and 1890, and voted “English Tree of the Year” in 2016, lying on its side across the wall next to a freshly cut stump.

“The senseless destruction of what is undoubtedly a world-renowned landmark – and a local treasure – has quite rightly resulted in an outpour of shock, horror and anger throughout the north-east and further afield,” Detective Chief Inspector Rebecca Fenney-Menzies of Northumbria Police said.

“I hope this second arrest demonstrates just how seriously we’re taking this situation.”

Police said their investigation was ongoing and had appealed to the public for any further information regarding the late-night axing.

“Any information – no matter how small or insignificant you think it may be – could prove absolutely crucial to our enquiries,” the force said on social media.

To sweeten the deal, one local pub has joined with nearby businesses to offer a £2000 ($3800) bar tab to anyone who gives police information that leads to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for the felling.

The Twice Brewed Inn, which is just a “stone’s throw” away from Hadrian’s Wall, said it initially offered a £1500 bar tab, but increased it in the hopes it would persuade someone to come forward.

“Surely someone must know something, or would have seen something,” The Twice Brewed Inn general manager, Steve Blair, told Britain’s Sky News.

“We offered £1500 and a couple of other people and local businesses have contributed. I believe it is up to £2000 now for information leading to the capture and prosecution of anyone who had anything to do with it.”

Blair said the tree’s destruction might also be bad news for the pub and its visitors. The site had drawn a lot of people for proposals and to scatter loved ones’ ashes.

“We do have a fear for local tourism,” he said.

“We have 65 staff employed here, one of the biggest sites in the area, but we are in quite a desolate location.

“We are worried.”

-with AAP

Topics: Britain
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