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Special constable accused of threats

A SPECIAL constable who faced losing his job after being accused of threatening a young woman in Lerwick town centre last summer was acquitted at the town’s sheriff court on Thursday.

Graeme Gerrard, of 38a Market Street, Lerwick, had been out celebrating his birthday on 23 August when an argument broke out between his girlfriend and another young woman.

Twenty year old hairdresser Debbie McQuiston told the court that Mr Gerrard, who is a supervisor with the fire brigade at Sullom Voe oil terminal, had stood directly in front of her and said he had wanted to “batter” her for ages.

Her story was backed up by 22 year old labourer James Hughson, who was standing nearby in the queue outside a baked potato shop on Commercial Street around 2am that morning.

Both witnesses said that when Mr Hughson tried to intervene, 38 year old Mr Gerrard told him that he would use his part time job with the police force to “fuck you up”.

However the special constable denied the charge of breach of the peace, saying that he had merely tried to calm down an argument between Ms McQuiston and his 23 year old girlfriend Amy Owen.

He said that it was Mr Hughson who had threatened him, to which he had made a gesture to show he was not frightened and walked away. “I did my best to diffuse a volatile situation,” he insisted.

The court heard that everyone had been drinking that night, but two police officers said that when they were approached by Ms McQuiston later that night she was “abusive and aggressive”. The police considered that she and Mr Hughson were both too drunk to make a statement that night.

Sheriff William Livingston said that there were inconsistencies in the evidence from Ms McQuiston and Mr Hughson and as the pair had spoken about the incident prior to giving statements to the police a few days later there was a chance their evidence could have been “contaminated” by cross collaboration.

He found Mr Gerrard not guilty of causing a breach of the peace because he had “very significant doubts” that he had made the threats.