Two men to face court over felling of famous 150-year-old tree in England

Two men have been charged with cutting down the popular 150-year-old Sycamore Gap tree that toppled over in northern England last year, prosecutors said Tuesday. Daniel Graham, 38, and Adam Carruthers, 31, were charged with causing criminal damage and damaging the wall built in A.D. 122 by Emperor Hadrian to guard the northwest frontier of Britain. They were ordered to appear in Newcastle Magistrates’ Court on May 15. The sycamore’s majestic canopy between two hills made it a popular subject for landscape photographers. It became a destination on the path along the wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, after being featured in the 1991 film “Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.” The nighttime felling caused widespread outrage as police tried to find the culprits behind what they called a deliberate act of vandalism. Northumbria Police Superintendent Kevin Waring called it “an incredibly sad day” when the tree was found. A hiker who was among the first people to see it lying on the ground expressed shock. “It’s basically the iconic picture that everyone wants to see,” Alison Hawkins said at the time. “You can forgive nature doing it, but you can’t forgive that.” Graham and Carruthers were arrested in October and released on bail. It took authorities more than six months to bring charges against them. Det. Chief Inspector Rebecca Fenney said she recognized “the strength of feeling in the local community and further afield” but cautioned people against speculation or comment that could affect the criminal case. The National Trust, which owns the land where the tree stood, said it will take up to three years to see if new growth sprouts from the sycamore’s stump. The trust removed the tree and was hopeful that about a third of the seeds and cuttings it collected could later be planted.

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