Forestry worker cleared of £6,000 theftfrom ticket machines

Date: Friday 24th February 2017

A FORESTRY craftsman who denied stealing around £10,400 from ticket machines at Lakeland car parks has been acquitted of two charges he was facing.

Harvey Davidson (30), Portland Square, Workington, went on trial at Carlisle Crown Court last week. He had pleaded not guilty to three theft charges.

These related to cash allegedly stolen from car park ticket machines at Whinlatter and Grizedale forests. At the time, during late 2013 and the early months of 2014, Davidson was employed by the Forestry Commission, which owned all of the machines.

He protested his innocence throughout the trial and denied being responsible for any crimes. He suggested that a “calculation error” could explain why thousands of pounds was missing from Grizedale machines.

A controlled test of two machines was undertaken by Davidson and a colleague before the thefts were alleged to have occurred, the court heard.

This was due to concerns over apparent discrepancies, and brought to light a “considerable” cash shortfall.

Evidence showed that Davidson’s mobile phone and car were near Grizedale and Whinlatter when some thefts allegedly occurred. But he explained that non-Forestry Commission work — including firewood sales and gardening — along with socialising, meant he was regularly present in these parts of the Lakes.

“I have not stolen any money,” he told the jury.

Davidson, who underwent some forestry training through Newton Rigg College, near Penrith, had also earlier said: “I can categorically say I have never stolen anything in my life.”

After hearing all the evidence in the case, jurors unanimously cleared him of stealing £5,747 from two machines at Grizedale. On a majority verdict, they also acquitted him of an alleged £407 theft from the same site.

Recorder Michael Smith discharged the jury after it failed to reach a verdict on the third count. This related to the alleged theft of £4,239.40 from three machines at Whinlatter over a two-month period in 2014.

Mr. Smith gave the prosecution 14 days to decide whether or not to seek a retrial on this charge alone. In the meantime, Davidson was remanded on bail.