Court told of ‘bizarre’ bee hive case

A Limavady pensioner who says he is allergic to bees was stung with a £200 fine after he pleaded guilty to attempted theft of a bee hive, writes Sheena Jackson.

Lawrence Dickson of Ardgarvan Cottages appeared at Limavady Magistrates Court on Wednesday in what his barrister described as “a bizarre case”.

When police arrived at Drumrane Road on May 30 at 11.15pm, Dickson had been detained by a witness who said he’d seen suspicious activity by the 78-year-old and another male. The witness said he’d seen the beehive - valued at £540 - fall to the ground. The second male had fled, but Dickson was detained until police arrived as the witness had taken the keys from his vehicle parked in a lane. Dickson was searched and handed over the contents of his pockets to police but, when the officer realised he had four live bees in his hand he released them, and Dickson stamped on them. Dickson initially denied stamping on the bees, but later admitted it saying he did it because they were dangerous.

Barrister Joe McCann said Dickson had been a bee keeper in his younger days, but not now. He said he wasn’t wearing protective clothing at the time and “was in fact allergic to bees”. When asked how the bees got into Dickson’s pocket, Mr. McCann said: “I can only assume they voluntarily entered his pocket.”

When in the police car, officers heard “a buzzing sound” and said bees were seen to escape from Dickson’s collar.

“It is the most unusual and bizarre case, and I can offer no explanation as to why he was involved in this,” said Mr. McCann.

District Judge Austin Kennedy said it wasn’t often the court saw a 78-year old in court on attempted theft charges. “Something happened here - only you know; we don’t. The court has its suspicions, but you’re fully aware of what went on,” said Judge Kennedy, who then asked Dickson why he was at the scene.

Dickson replied: “I had diarrhoea, I had to ‘louse a button’. “

The judge asked Dickson if he’d been stung, to which he replied “no”.

“This has to stop,” said Judge Kennedy. Dickson was ordered to pay £50 compensation to the hive owner.