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Published Tuesday February 8, 2000, in the The Scotsman

Noisy electronic frogs
will croak no more

Andrew Cromar, an electrician, was fined 150 for ignor-ing police requests to turn off the "watch-frogs" placed in his garden to deter vandals and thieves.

Glasgow District Court heard that the frogs' sensors were so sensitive that loud croaking could be activated by gusts of wind and washing flapping in a neighbouring garden.

Neighbours Catherine and James Watt, 66, of Thorncroft Drive, Kings Park, Glasgow, were driven to distraction day and night.

Mrs Watt, 65, who is on medication for a sleeping disorder and high blood pressure, told the court: "The frogs were croaking each and every time I entered my own garden. I heard them at 2am when I was in my sitting room or in my dining room. It was invasion of my privacy."

Mrs Watt said she eventually snapped when two of the frogs croaked at her as she went shopping. She picked them up and threw them in a rubbish bin, but when she returned the frogs were back in place and joined by a third.

Eventually, the police were alerted, but Cromar, of Thorncroft Drive, refused to stop the electronic frogs' chorus. Cromar denied a charge brought under Section 54 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act of 1982 alleging that he refused to comply with police requests to turn off the frogs.

Yesterday, Sarah Barr JP, found him guilty and fined him 150.

The frogs, one of which started croaking when it was produced in court, were kept in custody to await destruction.

Cromar, 39, who is self-employed, claimed to have been the victim of a miscarriage of justice and said he intended to appeal against his conviction and lodge a formal complaint against the Strathclyde Police officers involved.

He claimed he had closed-circuit TV video footage in which, he alleged, other neighbours could be seen cutting down his trees and committing a breach of the peace.

He said: "I made complaint after complaint to the police and they did nothing except to bring me up into court about croaking frogs. They cost 3.50 each plus VAT and there are 140,000 of them all over Britain."

He added: "It's pathetic. I will fight on no matter how much it costs and how many years it takes."

In court, Cromar claimed the Smiths, a neighbouring family, had cut down trees on a piece of ground where ownership is disputed.

Constable Alan Jackson, 32, the policeman to whom the Watts complained, told Greg Cunningham, prosecuting, that he went to Mr Cromar's house on 18 February last year and asked him to de-activate the frogs or switch them off during the evenings and at night. He said Cromar had refused.

Two days later, PC Jackson said he visited the Watts, who were anxious and agitated, after a further complaint, and he heard the frogs croaking in the garden. Cromar was not in so he decided to go into his garden and seize the frogs as evidence.

He denied to Cromar's lawyer, Philip Cohen, that the seizure was illegal because he had taken the frogs without the owner's consent.

Later, Mr Watt said: "We are satisfied with the verdict. He has done what he did and he has paid the price. I am having nothing to do with him [Cromar]. He is not the kind of man you speak to."

Copyright The Scotsman Publications Ltd.

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