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Court / Man accused of serious assault walks free from court

A MAN from Glasgow was told he was free to go after an assault case against him was found not to be proven at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Thursday.

Mark Whyte, of Bargany Place, was accused to have assaulted another man to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and permanent impairment outside the Welcome Inn pub in Mossbank in the early hours of 19 May 2018.

But following a two day trial, sheriff Ian Cruickshank said he was not convinced beyond reasonable doubts that Whyte had acted in the way alleged by the Crown and tended to agree with the defence that the 44-year old engineer had acted in self defence when he became involved in a scuffle on the said night.

The incident had tragic consequences for the complainer who suffered brain injury when he fell and hit his head on the ground. He was rushed by ambulance to the Gilbert Bain Hospital and then airlifted to Aberdeen for “significant surgery”.

The 39 year old has been left with a number of neurological difficulties after the incident including with his eyesight, hearing and balance.

Giving evidence on Thursday morning, Whyte told the court how he had finished his shift at the Shetland Gas Plant on Friday 18 May, returned to the Sella Ness accommodation camp and had gone out to the pub with some work mates later the same evening.

Several other witnesses confirmed that the complainer, arriving on a birthday bus, was very drunk and did repeatedly behave in an annoying and inappropriate manner towards Whyte and his friends.

This went on for some time and resulted in the bar manageress asking the group if they wanted her to tell the complainer to leave the premises, but the group said there was no reason for that.

When Whyte stepped out for a cigarette, he was instantly approached and insulted by the complainer who, Whyte said, also pushed him.

“It happened straight away. I put my arm around his shoulder because I believe to this day that a punch was coming,” he said. “We spun, and by that time he fell and pulled me with him.”

“I heard his head hit the ground. I instantly shouted for help. He was unconscious and I was scared for him.”

Under cross-examination by his solicitor Aafia Majid, Whyte added: “ I didn’t get the chance to walk away. I turned around and faced him.”

The Crown had alleged that Whyte had seized “hold of the complainer, wrestle with him and push him on the body causing him to fall to the ground and strike his head on the ground whereby he was rendered unconscious to his severe injury (…).”

Two of three Crown witnesses heard on Thursday didn’t see the incident happening, while the third was described “as not credible by the defence, after saying that he could “not be absolutely certain” that he saw Whyte pushing the complainer.

“I thought that is what I saw. It was dark; I don’t know. It happened so quickly,” the witness said.

Sheriff Cruickshank concluded that with the evidence available it was impossible to say how the incident exactly happened, and found the charge not proven.

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