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‘Who Dares Wins’ — Fife Royal Marine wins battle over flattened home

Ross Hunt.
Ross Hunt.

A Royal Marine has won a court battle after his home was demolished by mistake when he was abroad on active service.

Warrant Officer Ross Hunt, 38, took on the bungling firm which knocked down his home and has emerged victorious.

Those responsible for wrongly knocking it down claimed the house was a wreck and opposed his claim for damages.

The property, a former pub, was situated next to the derelict Inverkeithing paper mill, which was demolished in September 2012. Mr Hunt’s fully furnished home was flattened as well.

After a long-running court case, he has been awarded a total of £67,500 in damages as well as his legal costs.

He bought the building, consisting of the former pub and his upstairs flat, for £150,000 in 2004 and it was unoccupied when his career took him out of Scotland.

He intended to return to live there when he took up the role of bandmaster for the Royal Marines Scotland Band. He is currently based in Portsmouth as bandmaster at the RM School of Music.

At a hearing at Dunfermline Sheriff Court last year, Mr Hunt recalled receiving a phone call from a friend with the devastating news.

“He asked why I had knocked it down. He’s a bit of a joker and so I thought it was just a sick joke. He told me that he’d walked past the property that day and it was a pile of rubble.

“Once I’d established it had happened I went through a number of emotions. Prolonged disbelief that it would be possible for my home to be knocked down, for my home to be gone without me knowing about it.”

He returned to Scotland a few weeks later. He told the hearing: “I don’t mind saying I broke down. I was beset by disbelief, horror and sadness that it was gone. When I saw items like the cream sofa, VHS tapes and other things poking through the rubble it brought it home what I had lost.”

Andrew Davidson, Colin Dempster and Chris Marsden, all of Ernst and Young, as joint receivers of Inveresk, former owners of the paper mill defended the action.

The Quayside Inn, at Harbour Place, was previously known as Ye Olde Foresters Arms and had been a pub since 1873.

The house before demolition......
The house before demolition……

The last time Mr Hunt saw inside the flat was in 2010. The property was boarded up after youths had broken into the bar several times.

In August 2012, he visited Scotland ahead of his planned return to work at Rosyth at the start of 2013. He did not enter the property but was “content” with the way the building looked.

....and the house after demolition.
….and the house after demolition.

In a written judgement just released, Sheriff Craig McSherry awarded £65,000 damages for the property, £2500 for contents and £2000 for the cost of clearing the remaining rubble.

Ross’ solicitor Jonathan Matheson-Dear said: “This has been a long and arduous process to secure justice for my client.”

He went on: “It was particularly galling for him because he intended in the future to return to occupy the flat above the public house and it contained many items of personal property of sentimental value.

“A simple check of the Land Registers would have disclosed that he was the proprietor of the building.”

He added: “His distress at the loss of his property was aggravated by the fact that at no time was he given any kind of apology. Indeed, it was implied by them that because it was alleged that the building was extremely dilapidated that they had done him a “favour” in destroying it and that they had enhanced the value of the site as a consequence.

“The evidence led at court did not, however, support this allegation and the court has upheld Mr Hunt’s claim to remedy him for his financial loss, so I am delighted that with my assistance he has secured an order to compensate him accordingly as well as the legal expenses which were incurred by him in pursuing the matter.”

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