A Crossford housing developer had admitted that he carried out a year-long campaign of harassment against villagers opposing his plan to build a new estate there.
In an unexpected move at Lanark Sheriff Court on Tuesday, the latest day of what was expected to be a long trial, 47-year-old Neil Pringle pleaded guilty to amended charges against him arising from a lengthy dispute over his scheme to build luxury houses on Holm Road, Crossford.
His Queen’s Counsel told the court that Pringle had now “decided to draw a line under the whole matter.”
The Crown outlined the circumstances of the case, stating that Pringle’s application for planning permission to build the homes in a field long in his family’s ownership had attracted several local objections from nearby residents, fearing the developemnt would cause flooding of their properties.
Pringle responded to this by repeatedly parking outside the home of two of the objectors, Robin and Suzanne Clements, on occasions between May 1, 2014, and April 30, 2015, and staring into their home, causing them alarm and also, on July 26, 2014, dumping chicken droppings from his van near their driveway.
The court also heard how, on March 23 last year, Pringle approached an 87-year-old local resident as he walked on Holm Road on sticks following a knee operation, swore at him and threatened him.”
The Crown said that, on April 24, 2015, Pringle, of Flat 1-1 5 Park Quadrant, Glasgow, approached another local resident as he tended his garden and said to him that he knew he and others had “complained to Scotish Water.
Pringle admitted on Tuesday that these incidents had occurred.
However, his pleas of not guilty to two other charges were accepted by the Crown: that, on July 21 2014, he behaved in an abusive manner and shouted and swore at another local resident, Mr Torsten Stein, placing him in a state of alarm and fear and that, on July 19, 2014, he failed to inform a contractor and residents of the potential dangers of live cables running underneath his Holm Road site,
The Queen’s Counsel acting for Pringle told the court that part of his client’s behaviour had been due to his deep personal attachment to the land involved; his late father and late brother had owned it before he inherited it.
Now, said the QC, Pringle had “seen the error of his ways”.
To show that he now wanted to “draw a line under this and state that things have gone far enough”, Pringle was now abandoning his plan to move into his new Crossford estate himself and was now selling the house he’d earmarked for himself.
Sheriff Nikola Stewart deferred sentence for six months for good behaviour. She imposed conditions of bail, including a ban on Pringle making any further contact with the victims of his offences.