THE TRIAL of a man accused of stabbing another man outside Brae Hotel last year had to be adjourned on Wednesday as the defendant was suffering pain caused by a wisdom tooth.
It was 22 year old Sydney Peter James Johnson’s third day in the dock. When he explained that he was in too much pain to continue following proceedings, Johnson was instructed to visit hospital A&E and Sheriff Philip Mann called the trial to a halt.
The day at Lerwick Sheriff Court was once more bedevilled by technical difficulties, with Sheriff Mann ruefully noting: “Everything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
Procurator fiscal depute Saima Rasheed spent around an hour of a stop-start day questioning the trial’s third witness, 22 year old Shaun Hurson.
He had accompanied Johnson and Charlotte Jeffrey to the Northern Lights bar at Brae Hotel on 20 January last year, the visit ending in a fight between the defendant and Andrew Smith, who Johnson is alleged to have stabbed.
Hurson told the court he had been aware of unpleasant messages sent by Smith to Johnson saying he was “going to kill him and all sorts”.
Johnson had been “his normal self” when they went to the pub, Hurson said, though he accepted it was possible he was anxious and “putting on a brave face”.
He had tried to act as peacemaker during an altercation between Smith and Johnson within the bar. After that Smith had dragged Jeffrey, his former girlfriend, outside and across the car park to his vehicle – where he slashed her across the face.
Hurson said he ran after them because “at that point he [Smith] was basically trying to kidnap her”, and he – along with Johnson – punched Smith on the side of his face.
“What else are you going to do when he’s just slit a girl’s face open?” he said. Hurson said he was completely sure he had nothing in his hands at the time, but he did recall seeing a knife sitting between the car’s two front seats and “I backed off”.
Under questioning from Rasheed, Hurson insisted that at no time had he seen Johnson in possession of a knife. “I didn’t,” he said. “Everything at that moment was happening so fast.”
She repeatedly put it to him that the version of events he was offering in court contradicted that given in a recorded interview with police officers at 4am the day after.
He insisted he had told the police the truth, but that they were “trying to put words into my mouth” regarding the knife. “I saw James [Johnson] with an object [inside the Northern Lights] but I couldn’t tell if it was a knife.”
Technical issues meant the procurator fiscal depute was unable to play a recording of the tape to members of the jury prior to Sheriff Mann’s decision to adjourn.
The trial is due to resume at 10am on Thursday.
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