One of the men who stole the iconic clock from the former paper mill in Guardbridge is doing ‘time’ in prison.
Oliver Anderson (31) was sentenced to a total of four months behind bars by Sheriff Charles Macnair in Cupar.
His co-accused, Kristopher Leslie (30) was handed a community payback order requiring him to carry out 135 hours of unpaid work.
Anderson, of 84 Cawdor Crescent, and Leslie, of 1 Lismore Avenue, both Kirkcaldy, admitted stealing the clock at the premises formerly occupied by Curtis Fine Papers between June 6 and 7 this year.
Anderson also admitted breaking into the premises between June 7 and 22 and stealing a quantity of cable and wiring.
Depute fiscal Joanne Smith told the court that manager of the site - which is now owned by the University of St Andrews - finished work at 4.30pm, when the clock on the outside of the building showed the correct time.
When he returned next morning, it had stopped at 12.06am, and he dicovered that the master clock and its pendulum, which were inside the building, had gone.
The court heard that a sharp-eyed resident saw a white van in the town’s Main Street on June 20 whose driver and passenger were acting suspiciously.
When he read in the local press about the theft two days later, he gave the registration number of a member of the community council, who in turn contacted the police.
Both the accused were taken in for questioning and police found fishing items and numerous pieces of cable and wiring in the van.
During his interview, Leslie told police that they’d find the clock in Anderson’s home, where it was retrieved along with a large quantity of cable and wiring, parts of which had been stripped for the copper inside. The haul was worth around £2500, the court was told.
“This was a case that gained a great deal of press attention because of the clock’s sentimental value to the people who had worked in the mill and the people of Guardbridge,” said Ms Smith.
“It had kept time for decades and it was only through the watchful eye of members of the public that it was recovered.
“The university presented the mill with a replica prior to it being found.”
Anderson’s solicitor Katrina Clark told the court that the men were in the area on a fishing trip and when they saw the disused mill they decided to take a look.
Anderson accepted that he had taken the clock and the cable, describing his actions as ‘the stupidest thing he had ever done.’
A defence agent for Leslie described the offence as ‘out of character’ for him. As a high earner working for a building firm, he was ‘utterly bewildered’ as to why he’d helped steal a clock that was worth only a couple of hundred pounds.
His actions had been ‘spontaneous, opportunistic and idiotic’, said the agent.
Sheriff Macnair told Anderson that the theft of metal must be treated with the ‘utmost seriousness’ by the courts and that a custodial sentence was inevitable.
He told both accused that the theft of the master clock had had a significant impact on the local community.
“It was only through their community spirit that this was brought to a conclusion,” he commented.