A WEEKEND of peace and tranquillity at a Buddhist retreat in the Highlands boiled over into violence following a row over a teacup.
Two followers of the religion, Robert Jenner, 50, and 47-year-old Raymond Storrie, from Glasgow, joined fellow worshippers travelling from the Central Belt to enjoy a calming weekend retreat near Nairn.
It is unusual to have a violent incident at a Buddhist retreatRaymond Storey
However Inverness Sheriff Court that there was animosity between the pair before they arrived at self-employed joiner and fellow Buddhist Andrew Newlands’ home at Hazelwood, Laikenbuie, in May.
The acrimony continued on the morning of May 9 while Mr Jenner was in the kitchen making a cup of tea and Mr Storrie walked in.
A row about the cup of tea escalated into violence and Mr Jenner was accused of assaulting Mr Storey by punching him in the face. He denied the charge, saying he had acted in self-defence.
Sheriff Gordon Fleetwood found the charge not proven.
Mr Storrie told Sheriff Fleetwood: “He poured boiling water into his cup but not mine. I swore at him and called him ignorant. I grabbed his cup and poured the water into mine, spilling some of it. I didn’t see him again until later that night when he came up to me wanting to talk about the incident. I was calm by that time although I must have still been upset.
“I was having another cup of tea and a smoke of my e-cigarette and didn’t want to talk to him.
“I did not swear at him and moved back towards the building. It was then that he assaulted me. He punched me several times on the head.
“I had swelling on my face and my lip was burst. It later required stitches. I hit him over the head with my cup and asked him, is this how you practise the dharma? (In Buddhism, dharma is the doctrine of universal truth practised by all).
“Then he said that I had attacked him. I showed no aggression towards him whatsoever.”
Mr Storey later told police: “It must have been ego-driven insecurity. I am a bit intellectual and Robert is dyslexic. I have always felt he had a bit of an issue towards me.”
But Mr Storrie later admitted to defence lawyer Raymond McIlwham that he had threatened to “kill” Mr Jenner while he was on the way to hospital for treatment after the alleged assault. He added: “I was still very, very angry at this point.”
Their host for the weekend, Mr Newlands, told the court that his home, Hazeldean, is not an official Buddhist retreat. Instead, he said he invited “people of like mind” to his home.
Mr Jenner, of Dumbarton Road, Glasgow, denied assaulting Mr Storrie, lodging a special defence of self-defence, claiming that he was first attacked by Mr Storey with the teacup. He declined to give evidence on his own behalf.
No-one else witnessed the alleged assault and Sheriff Fleetwood found the charge not proven. He said: “How can I be sure I know what happened outside the house and that it was the accused who was the aggressor? The charge has to be not proven.”
After the case, Mr Jenner refused to comment.
Mr Storey said: “It is unusual to have a violent incident at a Buddhist retreat. I have been going to them for over 20 years seeking some peace and tranquillity but it didn’t work out that way on this occasion.”