A Royal Marine has won a court battle after his Inverkeithing home was demolished by mistake when he was away on service.
In true ‘Who Dares Wins’ style, Warrant Officer Ross Hunt took on the bungling firm who knocked down his property and has now emerged victorious with a £69,500 pay out.
The 38-year-old bandmaster had broken down in tears when he saw his home had been reduced to rubble, with those responsible claiming it was a wreck and implying they had done him a "favour".
They also opposed his claim for damages.
His property, a former pub called The Quayside, was situated next to the derelict Inverkeithing paper mill, which was demolished in 2012.
However, there was a shock for Ross when he was told his fully furnished home had also been flattened as well.
After a long-running court case, Sheriff Craig McSherry awarded him £65,000 damages for the property, £2,500 for contents and £2,000 for the cost of clearing the remaining rubble, as well as his legal costs.
He bought the building, consisting of the former pub and his upstairs flat, in 2004 for £150,000. It was demolished in September 2012.
When his career took him around the world, his home was unoccupied. However, he was intending to return to live there when he took up the role of bandmaster for the Royal Marines Scotland Band.
At a hearing at Dunfermline Sheriff Court last year, Ross 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.”
A few days later he received photos of “what was left of it”.
He told the court 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.”
The court action was against Andrew Davidson, Colin Dempster and Chris Marsden, all of Ernst and Young, as joint receivers of Inveresk, former owners of the paper mill.
The Quayside Inn, at Harbour Place, was previously known as Ye Olde Foresters Arms and had been a pub since 1873.
The pub part of the building was already closed and Mr Hunt lived in the upstairs flat.
His work took him away from Fife in 2005 and friends were living there up until 2009.
The last time Ross saw inside the flat was in 2010. The property was boarded up after youths had broken into the bar several times.
In August 2012, Ross visited Scotland ahead of his planned return to work at Rosyth at the start of 2013.
He did not go into the boarded up property but was “content” with the way the building looked.
He is currently based in Portsmouth as bandmaster at the RM School of Music.
The case was heard last year but the written verdict has just been released.
Ross’ solicitor Jonathan Matheson-Dear said, “This has been a long and arduous process to secure justice for my client.
“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.”