"The Butterfly Hinges"

Mortal Mindy's picture

Catcher of train robber in court over staircase

He had captured the leader of the Great Train Robbers and was looking forward to spending his hard-earned pension rescuing a run-down farmhouse from dereliction.

But the retirement dreams of an ex-Scotland Yard detective and his wife came tumbling down after he removed a spiral staircase from their Whitby farmhouse. The elderly couple are accused of damaging 18th century Grade Two listed Long Lease Farm at Hawsker by installing a straight stairway during renovations 17 years ago. Brian McNeil, 76, and Jillian McNeil, 71, both deny failing to comply with a listed building enforcement notice served in September 1998.

Former Detective Chief Inspector McNeil was a top “thief catcher” whose career highlights included helping Tommy Butler arrest Great Train Robbery mastermind Bruce Reynolds in Torquay in 1968. He decided to get back to his roots when he left the Metropolitan Police by buying the farm at Hawsker, where he had worked on the land as young man.  But his retirement dream landed him on the wrong side of the law when he replaced the “box-winder staircase with plank door and butterfly hinges” - one of the features of note which led to his new home being listed in 1980. Opening the case Scarborough Magistrates Court, barrister Nicholas Mason, for the national park, argued the five-day trial in front of a District Judge was necessary for the “prevention of crime”.

Mr Mason added: “In this case the enforcement notice is designed to prevent the commission of a crime and failure to comply with it is in fact a crime itself.” During the trail, the national park officials have agreed most of the listed features related to the outside of the but the lay-out was an important factor. The court heard yesterday that the McNeils had offered to put the spiral stair case back in 2007.  But the McNeils wanted it to turn a different way – to avoid it coming up through their newly re-modelled bathroom – and national park bosses said “no”.

The McNeil’s architect Barry Snoxell told the court before the McNeil family took over the farm “it was in a state of semi-dereliction and incapable of reasonable human habitation.” The staircase “was in a very poor state. There were sections which had been repaired. New pieces were attempted and wedged into it,” he added. “It was usable with care is probably the best description.”

The trial continues.




Capt. 'Bob''s picture

Always Look on The Brightside of ...


 "The state's case relied heavily on the evidence of Mr Asaro's cousin Gaspare Valenti but defence lawyers tried to discredit such witnesses as "accomplished liars".

Taking the witness stand last month, Mr Valenti told the court that Mr Asaro and Mr Burke killed a suspected informant using a dog chain and then ordered him to bury the body."



"The Public Accounts Committee said it was "staggering" government gave KidsCo more than £40m over 13 years with "no idea" what it was getting for that.

Kids Company collapsed in August amid claims of financial mismanagement - something its former bosses deny."


Capt. 'Bob''s picture

A Flag of 'Defiance' - Redhill

A fine example, of the brutish Justice system, out of order?


"A farmer who built a mock-Tudor castle and hid it behind a huge stack of hay bales has been given a three-month suspended prison sentence...

Robert Fidler, 66, built the four-bedroom home near Redhill in Surrey in 2000 without planning permission.

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council argued he was in contempt of court for not complying with enforcement notices.

A High Court judge agreed, saying he would be jailed for his "defiance" if the property is not demolished by June."

Crazy or Crackpot, RBBC, not the rather eccentric Mr Fidler ... 

Looks like a jail to me ... albeit next to a wagon and auto centre ... mebbe he modelled it on SBC's Dean Road Depot ...

Depots not Despots.

Do they do frack pads in Surrey?

Panto season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYrD_l3juoU

Capt. 'Bob''s picture

Slipping Standards


"Chuka Umunna said he wanted to see more work in schools to counter the “glamourised” portrayal of gangs in some popular culture and greater efforts to protect girls from exploitation as he opened a parliamentary debate on the problem."