Jailed for horticultural outrage

Death trap: the garden hedge
Death trap: the garden hedge

IT’S the latest weapon in the fight against crime. Shrubbery.

The Metropolitan Police has issued advice on the best hedges to plant in order to keep burglars at bay. Giant rhubarb or prickly gooseberries are among the 30 plants recommended in a new set of guidelines.

The idea is that when the man in the stripy jumper with a large bag marked “Swag” cases your gaff, he will swear softly under his breath. “Lawks a mercy! I’ll never get through that rhubarb bush unscathed. I had better take my felonious intentions elsewhere. There is a house down the road that just has a few begonias outside its window.”

But you are forced to wonder how the prickly bush approach will play out in the modern world. To find out, let us examine some Press Clippings of the Future...

March 6: A 58-year-old man named as Ken Goodfellow is today in police custody, accused of causing severe injury to an alleged housebreaker. A Methodist lay preacher and treasurer of his local horticultural society, Mr Goodfellow is suspected of having planted hazardous shrubbery around his detached bungalow.

April 20: Ken Goodfellow, aged 58, appeared before magistrates today and pleaded not guilty to causing severe scratching and loss of self-esteem to Wayne Scroggins by planting prickly gorse bushes outside his £85,000 luxury bungalow.

Mr Scroggins, a 19-year-old professional burglar and father of six, told the court: “I was out on the rob and this bungalow looked a tasty prospect, but when I tried to get at the windows I got tangled up in this wicked bush thing, with thorns and all that. It really hurt and I needed a long course of Savlon treatment. I have also suffered weeks of depression and anxiety and have been unable to work since.”

Mr Goodfellow was remanded in custody pending trial.

August 15: Ex-Methodist lay preacher Ken Goodfellow, 58, was yesterday found guilty of reckless gardening liable to cause physical injury and psychological damage to legitimate intruders at his luxury two-storey £80,000 bungalow. Goodfellow had protested his innocence and claimed that he was just a keen gardener who had failed to realise that his gorse bushes were potentially hazardous.

Mr Justice Jeffreys told Goodfellow: “With your gardening exploits you have caused serious injury and trauma to a promising young man and devoted father who was just setting out on his journey through life. Society will no longer tolerate such horticultural outrages and you must expect to receive a long prison term”.

The trial was adjourned so that pre-sentence psychological reports could be compiled on Goodfellow.

December 18: Wayne Scroggins, 20, a professional housebreaker who was severely scratched and traumatised by gorse bushes planted by rogue gardener Ken Goodfellow, 59, has been awarded £500,000 by the Injured Criminals Compensation Board.

“Now I can begin to get my life back together after what has been a terrible ordeal,” said father-of-seven Mr Scroggins.

In November, Goodfellow, a former lay preacher who has been expelled from his gardening club and whose luxury bungalow is on the market for £60,000, was sentenced to five years in jail for offences described as a “horticultural outrage”. His appeal against conviction has been dismissed. His wife has filed for divorce.