North-east man at centre of animal neglect case jailed after forging GP letter to dodge trial

Gary Stevens leaves Peterhead Sheriff Court.
Gary Stevens leaves Peterhead Sheriff Court.

A man has been jailed for four months after forging a letter from his doctor to dodge court.

Gary Stevens was due to go on trial last month accused of animal cruelty.

But in an attempt to be excused from proceedings, the 53-year-old photocopied an old letter from his GP, added some more information and submitted it to his solicitor.

However, when it was presented to court there were questions raised about its authenticity.

Stevens, of Hallmoss Farm, near Peterhead, admitted faking the letter when confronted.

Defence agent Leonard Burkinshaw told Peterhead Sheriff Court: “He photocopied a genuine letter and added some of the text himself.

“Mr Stevens phoned my office and admitted his wrongdoing but the damage had already been done.

“Unfortunately this was caused by a panic on behalf of Mr Stevens.”

At Peterhead Sheriff Court yesterday, he was jailed for four months for contempt of court.

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Stevens previously pleaded guilty to two charges under the Animal Welfare Act earlier this month.

He admitted failing to meet the needs of an animal by failing to provide a donkey with appropriately sized shed and bedding, and causing a pony unnecessary suffering by failing to secure veterinary advice leading to it being euthanised.

He will be sentenced for those two offences at a later date.

Jailing him, Sheriff Christine McCrossan said: “When the case called to trial you submitted a letter from your doctor.  I was suspicious of the letter.

“Mr Burkinshaw contacted you about it and you submitted another letter saying you regretted it.

“This was a deliberate and serious contempt of court and you committed fraud by using the doctor’s signature and letterhead.”

He will return to the dock in September for sentencing on the animal welfare charges.

In January, Stevens lost a legal bid to have the donkey returned to him after it was confiscated by the Scottish SPCA.