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Unreliable evidence

A SHETLAND man accused of attacking a neighbour with an iron bar was found not guilty of assault at Lerwick Sheriff Court yesterday (Thursday) after the evidence from the key witness was deemed too unreliable.

Jamie Neill, aged 34, of 191 Sandveien, Lerwick, denied that he hit James Taylor, a registered sex offender, over the shoulder with the foot long, inch thick metal bar on 2 November last year.

Mr Taylor told the court Mr Neill was with his friend Wesley Bailey upstairs in his house when he suddenly called him “a beast” and pulled out a bar concealed up his sleeve before striking him with it.

He said that Mr Bailey had tried to calm the situation down and both men had left the house. Mr Taylor called the police and went to hospital where he was treated for a minor injury to his shoulder.

Mr Bailey appeared from custody to give evidence after being arrested yesterday morning for failing to appear in court as a witness.

Then Sheriff Graeme Napier had to adjourn the trial because Mr Bailey was unsteady on his feet. He later admitted that he had just taken heroin and drunk alcohol prior to his arrest.

When Mr Bailey did give evidence in the afternoon he got into further trouble, after initially denying he could remember what had happened that day, then saying he had lied to the police and finally insisting the statement he had provided two weeks after the incident was accurate.

He said he had been with Mr Neill who had been angry after paint had been thrown at his door, which he thought had been meant for Mr Taylor.

The pair went to Mr Taylor’s house but he had stayed in the garden while Mr Neill went inside. There had been a shout and Mr Neill had emerged, but he had seen no weapon, he said.

“He wouldn’t have a metal bar on him. He wouldn’t have the balls,” Mr Bailey said.

Sheriff Napier found Mr Neill not guilty, saying he could not place any reliance on Mr Bailey’s evidence.

He then threatened to charge Mr Bailey with contempt of court for failing to turn up to give evidence and then prevaricating.

The sheriff said: “You are a complete waste of space…but given that you have been kept in custody for most of the day I am satisfied that is sufficient and I will not deal with you for contempt of court.”