Argument over noisy bird leads to £200 fines for Borders couple

A noisy guineafowl was to blame for a dispute between neighbours near Kelso, Jedburgh Sheriff Court was told.

Thursday, 17th September 2020, 9:34 am
Updated Thursday, 17th September 2020, 9:38 am
Jedburgh Sheriff Court.

Christopher Pairman, 64, lost his temper during an early-morning bust-up and directed foul-mouthed abuse at Barry White while his 61-year-old wife Denise scratched their neighbour’s Mercedes car, causing almost £1,400 worth of damage.

The Pairmans, both first offenders, of Harpertoun Farm Cottages, between Ednam and Eccles, were each fined £200, plus victim surcharges of £20. Mrs Pairman, a self-employed hairdresser, has also been ordered to pay compensation for the damage she caused.

She admitted vandalism and her husband pleaded guilty to behaving in a threatening or abusive manner.

Defence lawyer Ross Dow explained that the backdrop to the dispute was a guineafowl, a rare species of bird known to be extremely noisy and, for that reason, often kept as guard animals.

Mr Dow said his clients had been annoyed the guineafowl had been allowed to roam on their land, making a lot of noise and defecating, and after a night’s drinking, they decided to confront their neighbours.

Procurator fiscal Fraser Mathieson said that at around 12.30pm on June 2, Mr White and his wife noticed the Pairmans outside their property.

He continued: “Mr Pairman was shouting and swearing and uttered a number of threats of particular concern such as ‘you are a dead man’, ‘I will f***ing kill you’ and ‘come out here and I will punch your f***ing lights out’.

“Mr White did not accept the challenge but filmed what was happening so he could explain things to the police.

“During this, Denise Pairman was seen crouched towards the rear of the Whites’ vehicle. She was moving slowly around it and the Whites could hear a scratching sound.

“On inspection the following morning, the Mercedes vehicle had been scratched.

“I am told that the cost of the damage was £1,371.”

Mr Dow, defending, said: “The first thing to say is that they convey their regrets and apologies for this episode.

“It is quite clear they are suitably contrite.

“The background to this is a neighbour dispute over a guineafowl.

“The guineafowl had been on the Pairmans’ land, causing a lot of noise for months and defecating everywhere.

“My clients had been celebrating, and when they attended at their garden, there was another racket and it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“Mrs Pairman cannot explain why she did what she did.

“Of course, being drunk is not an excuse, but this will not happen again.”

Sheriff Robert Fife told the pair: “I am sure you are very disappointed at being in court today. Clearly you have been law-abiding citizens up until now and now each of you has a criminal record.

“Hopefully, lessons have been learned and I will not see you in court ever again.

“These things always sound worse when they come out in a public court for what really was a moment’s madness.”