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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 September 2006, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Professor 'brandished' an ice axe
Inverness Sheriff Court
The court heard that Vaughan was a professor from Leeds
A university professor grabbed an ice axe and challenged estate rangers after they asked him to extinguish a fire, Inverness Sheriff Court has heard.

John Vaughan, 59, from Leeds, admitted committing a breach of the peace at Rothiemurchus Estate, Aviemore, on 14 April.

A plea of not guilty to lighting a fire and endangering people or property was accepted by the Crown.

Sheriff Alexander Pollock fined Vaughan 300.

He said he had every right to be there and his ancestors had been doing so for 5,000 years
Fiscal Ian Smith

The estate's countryside manager, William McKenna, had been alerted to campers on land at Lower Glen in Einich.

He attended with two other countryside rangers, Gary and Lucy Ford, after being told there was a large open fire in the wood.

They discovered the fire was a blaze with a 30ft pine tree lying across it.

As they approached they were met by Vaughan and two other campers.

Fiscal Ian Smith said: "Mr McKenna said there was no problem camping on the estate but told them the fire was on peaty ground and was not allowed. It had to be extinguished."

He told them the decision was being made under the rules of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Mr Smith said: "Vaughan became very agitated.

"He said he had every right to be there and his ancestors had been doing so for 5,000 years.

"He told them: 'This is my land and my space'. Mr McKenna said he would not leave until the fire was extinguished.

Swearing repeatedly

The court was told that the Fords filled buckets of water from a burn and went towards the fire, but were confronted by Vaughan, who pushed Mr Ford in the chest.

The university professor told them not to come any closer. He went to his tent and returned with an ice axe.

He brandished the axe before striking it into the ground, shouting aggressively and swearing.

The three rangers left the scene saying the police would be called.

When officers arrived on the scene Vaughan swore repeatedly at them.

Defence lawyer Roger Webb said his client was a lecturer from Leeds and a visiting professor to the north of Scotland.

'Inappropriate manner'

He said Vaughan had previously been camping in the area with a friend who had died shortly afterwards.

Mr Webb said this left Vaughan in an emotional state and on the night in question, he had been drinking to his friend.

Mr Webb added: "He accepts he acted in an inappropriate manner. He realises he was wrong."

Vaughan admitted committing a breach of the peace by repeatedly shouting and swearing, brandishing an ice axe, struggling with police officers and pushing Mr Ford.


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