Two men, 31 and 38, who 'chopped down historic Sycamore Gap tree from Robin Hood movie' to appear in court charged with criminal damage

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Two men will appear in court today charged with the destruction of the famous Sycamore Gap tree.

Daniel Graham, 38, and Adam Carruthers, 31, will face Newcastle Magistrates' Court on Wednesday afternoon.

They face charges of criminal damage to the tree and to the neighbouring Hadrian's Wall, which stood next to each other in Northumberland for 200 years.

Northumbria Police said the men were arrested in October in connection with the incident and had been on bail since that date. 

The much photographed tree, which features in the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman, was chopped down in the dead of night in September last year, causing a national outrage.

It was found with its upper section lying across the historic Roman barrier, which is a World Heritage Site, after being targeted in a 'malicious act of vandalism'. 

The iconic tree, which is believed to be 300 years old, was found cut down last year

The iconic tree, which is believed to be 300 years old, was found cut down last year

The iconic tree, which is believed to be 300 years old, was found cut down last year

Walkers stop to look at the tree next to Hadrian's Wall in Northumberlandafter it was cut down in September last year

Walkers stop to look at the tree next to Hadrian's Wall in Northumberlandafter it was cut down in September last year

Northumbria Police officers arrive at the scene of the Sycamore Gap tree to investigate

Northumbria Police officers arrive at the scene of the Sycamore Gap tree to investigate 

The criminal damage caused by felling the famous tree has been valued at more than £620,000, according to court charges.

The pair are charged with criminal damage to property of a value over £5,000, namely 'without lawful excuse, damaged a sycamore tree to the value of £622,191 belonging to the National Trust'.

They face a second charge of criminal damage to property valued under £5,000, namely Hadrian's Wall, with the damage assessed to the Unesco World Heritage Site as being £1,144.

Both offences were alleged to have been committed on September 28 last year. 

Police made a number of arrests after the tree was felled and a teenager and man in his 60s were later both told they will face no further action.

Last September, walkers first noticed how part of the iconic tree appeared to have been marked with white paint, indicating someone may have felled it with a chainsaw.

Alison Hawkins, who lives in Liverpool, was one of the first people on the scene posting a picture on Facebook with the caption: 'An awful moment for all walking Hadrian's Wall. The Sycamore Gap tree has gone! Not the storm an absolute ******* felled it!!'

Ms Hawkins, who was on her fourth day of walking Hadrian's Wall, said she was 'tearful' when she discovered the tree had been cut down.

She said: 'At first we thought it was because of the storm but then we saw a national park ranger.

'He said it had been cut down and there was paint around the cut section, so it was a professional who knew where they were going to cut.

'It was a proper shock. It's basically the iconic picture that everyone wants to see. You can forgive nature doing it but you can't forgive that.' 

Following the wicked act, a Northumberland National Park Authority spokesman said: 'Northumberland National Park Authority can confirm that sadly, the famous tree at Sycamore Gap has come down over night. We have reason to believe it has been deliberately felled.

Officers urged people not to visit the scene while they investigated the area in September

Officers urged people not to visit the scene while they investigated the area in September

Part of the tree appeared to have been marked with white paint, indicating that someone may have felled it with a chainsaw

Part of the tree appeared to have been marked with white paint, indicating that someone may have felled it with a chainsaw 

The Sycamore Gap featured in the 1991 blockbuster Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (pictured) starring Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman

The Sycamore Gap featured in the 1991 blockbuster Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (pictured) starring Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman

'We are working with the relevant agencies and partners with an interest in this iconic North East landmark and will issue more details once they are known.' 

They added: 'It is not clear currently whether the tree is a victim of Storm Agnes or it is a deliberate act - though pictures indicate a clean and straight cut.'

The Sycamore Gap was voted English Tree of the Year in 2016 in the Woodland Trust's awards and is much loved by people from across the world. 

The mayor for North Tyne and Metro, Jamie Driscoll, visited the devastation and said: 'This tree is iconic. You can see love stones on the floor where people in the past have proposed to their partners.

'Other people have had their ashes scattered here. This is part of our culture. I have family in North America and when they come across we take them here.

'This is not a tree cut down. This is an insult to the people of Northumberland. If you look at the damage, you realise it is someone with a 28-inch chainsaw who knew what they're doing.

'I've had lots of messages from people who are upset about it. I'm normally a measured man but I'm very angry about this.

'I've heard people are in tears. It's a really special place to the people from the surrounding area.'

The National Trust, which owns the land on which the tree stood, hopes the sycamore will live on after scientists found that salvaged seeds and cuttings are showing signs of being viable for new growth. 

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