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An ill-advised enterprise

A FOOLHARDY teenage chef who joined a drunken acquaintance on “an ill-advised enterprise” to disrupt church services has offered to make a donation to make up for his involvement.

On Thursday Lerwick Sheriff Court heard that 16 year old Christian Duncan, of 12 Millgaet, Lerwick, had been drinking alcohol with friends in a house in the town on Saturday 8 February.

That night 22 year old William McCover, of 5 Veester Hill, Sandwick, cooked up a plan to “misbehave” at St Margaret’s Church, on Lerwick’s St Olaf Street during the Sunday service the following morning.

Duncan was in the catholic church’s congregation on Sunday when, true to his word and still drunk, McCover appeared and started shouting and swearing.

Outside the church, Duncan joined McCover who suggested they continue up the road to do the same thing at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in the Shetland Times’ former site on Prince Alfred Street.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said a member of the Mormon church came to welcome the pair, only for them to barge past him to where the rest of the congregation were praying.

Three of the churchgoers rose and escorted Duncan and McCover off the premises, with McCover shouting and swearing as they did so despite the presence of children nearby.

The fiscal accepted that McCover was the main protagonist, and described Duncan as “a stupid wee boy” who had gone along for the amusement.

“It’s beyond my comprehension why anyone would find such conduct amusing and it cries out for an explanation what was so amusing about behaving in such an offensive and appalling manner,” he said.

However defence agent Murray Aitken insisted his client had not gone with McCover for amusement value, but was concerned about McCover who was “extremely drunk”.

“He didn’t go (to the Mormon church) with the intention of causing any disruption, but accepts that when he arrived there that he didn’t do very much to stop what was happening,” Aitken said.

He said Duncan was “embarrassed and genuinely ashamed” of his actions and had offered to make “some contribution as a token of restitution that might go some way to show his regret”.

He added that his client was concerned about the impact the incident might have on his future career prospects and asked if such a donation might trigger an absolute discharge, leaving him with no criminal record.

Describing the whole affair as “a very ill-advised enterprise”, Sheriff Philip Mann accepted the defence proposal that he defer sentence for Duncan to be of good behaviour.

The sheriff said that he could not advise whether Duncan should make a a donation to the church, but said whether he did or not would be taken into account when he decided on a sentence.

He added: “Given that this is a Christian organisation I have no doubt they would want to show some Christianity in the matter.”

Meanwhile the sheriff issued a warrant for McCover’s arrest after he failed to show up in court.