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Court / Not proven verdict returned by jury in sexual assault trial

Lerwick sheriff court.Lerwick Sheriff Court.

A JURY has returned a verdict of not proven on two charges of sexual assault that were levelled at a former Lerwick resident, after a four-day trial.

John MacLellan, 67, was accused of carrying out the assaults on two women in September 2015 and July last year at two seperate addresses in the town.

MacLellan, who has moved to Scunthorpe, was alleged to have assaulted one of his victims after a party where a lot of drink had been taken and the pair were left sitting on the couch.

But the jury of eight women and seven men found the case against MacLellan not proven by majority verdict.

The court had been shown two videos made by the victim prior to the alleged assault that showed an evidently drunk MacLellan attempting to kiss her on the face, and necking a shot of liquor.

MacLellan was then alleged to have put a finger in the woman’s vagina and tried to feel her breasts in a prolonged attack that left the woman feeling frozen with fear. He was also accused of taking her hand and trying to place it on his penis.

The woman eventually made the allegation to the police last August after suffering repeated panic attacks, one of which landed her in hospital.

The court also heard two clandestinely recorded meetings between MacLellan and others who confronted him about the alleged assault.

In the first recording, it was nine minutes into the conversation before he asked what he was supposed to have done.

Throughout the recordings, MacLellan said that he could not remember anything taking place and that he would not be capable of such an act, without explicitly denying the allegation.

MacLellan’s several times replied “no comment” to questions during a police interview, with the transcript being read to the 15-strong jury.

The second alleged assault also followed a night of drinking. MacLellan’s accuser said he had lifted up her skirt and touched her privates through her underpants.

Gregor Kelly, defending MacLellan, argued that the second allegation had been made up to bolster the first one.

The jury unanimously returned a verdict of not-proven on the second charge.

The court heard that after the first assault complaint was made, MacLellan, who was retired, felt obliged to resign from various voluntary organisations, fearing their reputation could be damaged once the case became public knowledge.

He moved to Scunthorpe with his wife who had always wanted to move south.