A GOLFER has been fined £750 for battering a tame fox with a golf club after it stole his chocolate biscuit.
Donald Forbes, 55, of Riverdale, Burnside Road, Peterculter lashed out at the animal, striking it on the head, after he spotted it rummaging through his golf bag.
It was so badly injured it had to be killed by another golfer.
Forbes went on trial accused of striking the fox with the “intent to inflict unnecessary suffering” at Aberdeen Sheriff Court yesterday.
He told how the creature managed to sink its teeth into his Tunnocks Caramel Wafer by chewing through his bag as he played at Peterculter Golf Club.
He claimed he felt so threatened that he tried to scare it away with his driver.
But Sheriff Annella Cowan said the evidence proved he was out for revenge on the fox and had used his club as a weapon. She told Forbes: “My understanding was you had seen it, you became annoyed with it going for your chocolate biscuit, you hit it on the head with your driver.
“You did it deliberately. I am satisfied you are guilty of this offence.”
The fox had become a popular fixture at the club, where some members used to feed it.
Other golfers told the court how they saw the company boss run at the creature moments before he hit it over the head on 10 September last year.
Forbes’ golfing companion, Graeme Duthie, 55, also from Peterculter, said they had spotted the fox several times that day.
He said: “The fox was biting Donald’s bag. Donald ran towards the bag and shouted at it. He hit it with the club in his hand. I think he got a shock because it didn’t run away after shouting so loudly at it.”
Procurator fiscal Sandy Hutchison asked: “How hard would you describe the blow?”
He replied: “I wouldn’t have said it was very hard. It was the longest club in the bag. It was nothing like a proper golf shot.”
Mr Hutchison asked whether the fox had moved when he arrived at the scene. Mr Duthie replied: “It was fairly still. There was a wee bit of movement. It didn’t make a sound at all.
“I thought it was stunned and it would get up and walk away. There was no blood whatsoever.”
The engineer said the pair had waited a couple of minutes then carried on golfing.
Forbes said he remembered the fox looking back at him in a “threatening way” at the eighth hole.
He told the court: “I heard that some members had been bitten by the same fox.”
He went on: “My actions, I thought, were proportionate in relation to the threat it was being to me and my belongings. It was an instinctive swing – I happened to have the club in my hand at the time.”
As well as imposing the fine, Sheriff Cowan ordered forfeiture of Forbes’ driver.
After the incident, Forbes’ membership was suspended by officials at Peterculter Golf Club. No-one at the club was available for comment last night.
Grampian Police wildlife crime officer PC Dave MacKinnon said: “The circumstances of the case and the conclusion should highlight to the public the protection afforded to wild mammals and other protected species.”