Saturday 20 January 2018

Birdwatcher threatened with terrorist style beheading after being mistaken for prowler

A BIRDWATCHER feared he was going to be beheaded by a scythe-wielding "lunatic" after being mistaken for a prowler, a court heard.

Scott Cullen, 22, had set up his camera to photograph woodpeckers in the countryside when he was confronted by angry Leslie Bickley.

Bickley, 63, accused him of being a prowler and pulled out the garden scythe from under his coat.

A jury heard Bickley maid the twitcher kneel like in a "terrorist execution".

Mr Cullen told a court: "He said he'd sharpened the blade and told me to feel how sharp it was.

"He said he was going to cut off my limbs one by one.

"I just curled up into a ball on the floor - he was holding the blade to me as if he was going to go for me.

"He swung it past my ears. I could feel the wind, that's how I know it was close."

Postman Mr Cullen was headbutted by Bickley but he managed to run into a nearby river to escape.

Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court heard Mr Cullen was an "innocent and well-mannered young man" who enjoyed birdwatching and wildlife photography.

He was sitting on his rucksack, dressed in camouflage trousers and jacket when Bickley attacked him.

Prosecutor Ieuan Morris said: "Bickley frightened the life out of a young man who was doing nothing more than taking photographs.

"He produced a hand scythe, commanding Mr Cullen to get on his knees and threatening to chop off his limbs.

"He obeyed his command and went down on his knees as if facing execution. He was behaving like a lunatic."

The court heard retired builder Bickley, who has previous convictions for violence, lived close to the woods where Mr Cullen was birdwatching.

Eugene Egan, defending, said: "He had been beset by problems from unknown people and thought Mr Cullen was a prowler.

"He was a man who had reached the end of his tether, snapped and lost the self control he should have exercised.

"His patience had simply run out. He overstepped the mark."

Bickley, of Merthyr Tydfil, was jailed for 12 months after being found guilty of causing actual bodily harm and having an offensive weapon in a public place.

Judge Richard Twomlow told him: "This was an extremely unpleasant incident. You make Mr Cullen kneel down in a terrorist execution style."

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in World News