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Sexual assault trial: jury verdict ‘not proven’

A SIXTY four year old man has walked free from Lerwick Sheriff Court after a jury delivered “not proven” verdicts on nine charges against him, including accusations that he sexually assaulted two girls under the age of 16.

Basil Beatty, from North Roe, learned the by-majority verdict on Monday lunchtime following several hours of deliberation.

He was initially charged with 12 offences allegedly committed from December 2010 until October 2014 including one instance of intentionally causing one of the girls to participate in sexual activity.

Three of those charges were dropped last week, leaving the jury to determine whether or not Beatty was guilty of nine offences.

Last Monday one girl gave evidence by video link claiming that Beatty had grabbed her by the wrist and forced her to perform a sexual act on him.

She and another girl both testified that Beatty had touched them under their clothes in a game they called “tickle time”.

But defence agent Gregor Kelly repeatedly pointed to “glaring inconsistencies” in the two girls’ accounts.

A third alleged victim gave evidence on Wednesday, claiming Beatty sexually assaulted her, but DNA tests on items of her clothing were inconclusive.

In police interviews, Beatty repeatedly denied the accusations and stated they were a “concocted story” by girls who liked to cause mischief.

During his closing statement, procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie questioned why the three females would “put themselves through this” if it was all made up.

After several hours of consideration on Friday and Monday, the jury gave a “not proven” verdict on all nine charges.

Sheriff Philip Mann then told Beatty: “The jury has acquitted you by a verdict of not proven on all charges, so you are free to go.”

He then thanked the jury for performing their duty, adding it had been a “very difficult” and “complicated” case for them to deal with.