Assault near Myrend Farm




A Dunfermline contractor, George Paul Birnie, was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment at Dunfermline Sheriff Court today for a serious assault on a ten-year-old boy.

The charge against him was that on 22nd November, on the service road in Carnock parish from Cairneyhill to Myrend Farm, he assaulted Donald Drummond, aged 10, adopted son of Donald Smith, labourer, Cook’s Buildings, Cairneyhill, and struck him on the head with a piece of wood, fracturing his skull and endangering his life.


Mr J Soutar, procurator-fiscal, said that the accused was coming from Myrend Farm, Cairneyhill, out to the public road with a cart loaded with bundles of straw, and there were some boys standing at the side of the service road looking at the 2 men who were engaged in tree cutting in the neighbourhood. Just as he was passing a bundle of straw fell off, and they called on him, but he did not hear, and as one of the boys was coming up to him he struck at him with a piece of wood like a broom handle and ringed with iron. He cut him on the forehead and fractured his skull. Fortunately the little chap was now of danger, but had he been a little nearer Birnie the probability is a fatality might have been caused, as instead of a glancing blow he would have got a direct one. It had been suggested that the stick fell out of Birnie’s hand and that he had no intention to hit the boy, and it was to be hoped said the Fiscal, that he did not deliberately intend to strike the little fellow with that particular article.


Mr John Wright, solicitor, who appeared for accused, said that on the face of it this was a very serious charge, but he thought he could convince his Lordship that the whole affair was more an accident than anything else. On the day in question Birnie was engaged in carting manure from Dunfermline to Cairneyhill. He was a well-known figure in the countryside, and was the subject of many gibes and practical jokes, and he was continually being annoyed by the school children and by the younger fraternity. and they appeared to rely more on their agility to keep out of harm’s way.

Your Lordship, continued the agent, my client is not what might be termed an agile person. He seems to be built more for comfort than speed. (Laughter).

While delivering his load at Cairneyhill he was continually being annoyed by the school children, but he did not retaliate in any way.

On this occasion, however, when he had to call at Myrend Farm, he had again to run the gauntlet of the school children. The road at this part is very narrow, and as they were running round the cart he was afraid they might get jammed between the wall of the school, which is situated there, and the cart, and he turned round all of a sudden and told them to go back, and as he swung round the stick fell out of his hand. He had no intention whatever of striking any of the boys, but the stick inadvertently slipped out of his hand and hit the boy.


Accused was not aware he had struck anyone at the time, and he was only informed after going a distance of about twenty yards by another carrier who was waiting to let him past. This carter told him that the boy had been hurt, and immediately Birnie went back to the boy’s assistance, and the boy was taken home, and Birnie went there and expressed his sorrow to the parents and the boy, and explained that the whole thing was a pure accident. He had been a hard-working man all his life, having been engaged in carting, contracting, navvying, and had been a hut-keeper for some time, and the agent produced two certificates to show that this was in accordance with fact.

Sheriff Umpherston – The trouble with you is that you cannot always control your temper, and it seems to me that this has been another instance of an outburst of passion on your part. Your sentence is four months’ imprisonment.

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