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Millionaire family at war over unpaid loan between brothers

One of Scotland's richest families has been torn apart by a bitter feud sparked by a massive unpaid personal loan between brothers, a court has heard.

Members of the multi-millionaire Snowie family have fallen out amid allegations of violent threats, sledgehammer-wielding rampages and police involvement.

Euan Snowie claimed his brother Gordon had tried to remove him from his country mansion and declare him bankrupt for failing to pay back a loan deal they agreed.

Euan then made a phone call to his brother's wife Shona, 48, which led to his arrest and trial on a charge of making threats to her and her family.

She told Perth Sheriff Court: "He's my brother-in-law. We argued on about what he thought my husband was doing wrong, carrying on the sequestration on him. I said it was up to him to pay back the money he was due.

"It was in relation to money that my husband had loaned Mr Snowie that he didn't want to pay back. I was very upset about the way he was treating us.

"It was the tone in his voice. I felt he was threatening me, when he said there would be people at my door that night. It frightened me."

She told the court she put the phone down and went round her home in Dunning, Perthshire, locking the doors and windows, before phoning other relatives for advice.

During cross-examination she accepted recognising her husband's voice on a recording purportedly of him confronting his nephew Calum Snowie with a sledgehammer at the family's head office.

She admitted her husband's bid to sequestrate his brother and sister-in-law could have led to them being removed from the estate, Boquhan, in Kippen near Stirling, where they lived.

She told the trial that could have happened because "they weren't willing to pay their debt" and claimed Euan Snowie had been violent to his brother before.

Her sister-in-law Alison Snowie was so concerned about Euan Snowie's call she drove to Dunning and then phoned to confront him. She said he talked about sending "heavies" to sort it out during their brief conversation.

Company director Alison, 51, said: "She was upset and unclear because she was crying so much. She told me she had been receiving threats and was worried about the safety of the house.

"I spoke to Euan on the phone. I asked what he had meant and heavies came into it. He said 'I'll get the heavies and get this sorted once and for all.' She was very spooked."

Euan Snowie admitted calling his sister-in-law but denied the call was menacing. He told the court he had agreed a large loan with Gordon to cover a tax demand.

He said he had arranged to get the money from the bank but it was taking too long to clear and he had turned to his brother instead as he knew he had the cash available.

Snowie said he had then defaulted on paying back the full sum but had managed to pay back £50,000 per month for three months prior to the phone call.

Fiscal depute Rebecca Kynaston said: "This had clearly been a longstanding family dispute over money and had come to a head at the time of this incident."

Counsel for Snowie, John Campbell QC, said: "The call was made in a heightened, enflamed context. As so often with money, emotions and reactions are raised and enflamed.

"A great deal of money was borrowed, for honourable purposes, but not repaid. We can imply a strong feeling of being let down.

"It is perhaps not surprising that Gordon Snowie was angry and perhaps not even surprising that he was rampaging round the office.

"This was against a family background of four self-made men, accustomed to plain speaking, who have done well in business. Euan Snowie wrote a letter to his sister-in-law apologising for upsetting her.

"I completely understand she would be upset, but there has to be a clear threat to her for this to be considered a menacing phone call."

Euan Snowie, 46, of Boquhan House, Kippen, denied making calls to Shona and Alison Snowie on 14 September 2013 that were grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or of menacing character and making threats to Shona Snowie and her family. He was found not guilty after the trial.

Sheriff Lindsay Foulis said: "I have to go on the basis of evidence led, not on the basis of what might have been said." He said he "had a big question mark" over former police officer Alison's evidence.

The Snowie brothers, Malcolm, Alistair, Gordon and Euan, along with their mother Sheila, sold their waste management company for around £40 million.

A hotel chain which Euan Snowie is listed as a director of was put into liquidation earlier this year after being taken to court over unpaid debts by HM Customs and Excise.

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