Two best friends have walked free from court after being caught at a bus stop with weapons including a crossbow – because they were going on a survival weekend.
Christopher McMillan, 38, and Robert Brunn, 37, were charged with possessing an array of weapons in public without reasonable excuse, including knives, hatchets and two crossbows.
But they were acquitted after a trial at Aberdeen Sheriff Court when Sheriff Colin Dunipace returned a not proven verdict, saying he was “just satisfied” with their reasons, that they were on their way to two days of wild camping and bushcraft.
Speaking after the verdict, Peter Keene, Brunn’s solicitor, said: “I think at the end of the day the sheriff made the right decision. He was rightly concerned that there was a large crossbow in view, but they were charged with an offence which provided reasonable excuse.
“In this day and age, with the influence of people like Bear Grylls, people are interested in going out into the wilderness.
“God knows one day we might need these skills. These guys have been deprived of all of their equipment and they’ve not been back out since this incident.”
Speaking outside court, Mr Brunn said he was pleased with the outcome.
He said: “I’m happy. I think the only thing we were guilty of is being a bit naive.
“We’ll just be more careful in future.”
Mr McMillan denied having two knives, two hatchets and a crossbow in public without reasonable excuse. While his co-accused denied having two knives and a crossbow in public without reasonable excuse.
The court heard a member of the public phoned police just after noon on July 4 to report two men walking down the street in camouflage gear openly carrying a crossbow.
And when police turned up they found the pair waiting at a bus stop on Great Western Road.
Iain Hingston, Mr McMillan’s solicitor, asked witness Pc Katherine Morton what the men’s demeanour was like when the police arrived.
She said: “They were co-operative but quite surprised as to why we were there.”
Giving evidence, Mr McMillan, a chef of 22 years, said he had been interested in wild camping and bushcraft since he was a boy scout.
He said the pair had been on their way to camp in woods at Foggieton or the hills nearby.
He said he was planning to use it for “range practice” and “target shooting”.
Sheriff Dunipace said: “I have extreme concerns about individuals such as you walking about in public carrying items like these. It could be extremely alarming to the public. I really don’t consider it acceptable, walking around like that. I’m just satisfied, on balance, that you have excuse for it.”
He acquitted Mr McMillan, whose address was given as Union Grove, Aberdeen, and Mr Brunn, whose address was given as Bayview Court, Aberdeen, of all charges.