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Court / Murder trial adjourned to await result of Covid test

THE TRIAL of two people accused of murdering a woman in Shetland last summer has been temporarily delayed while a juror is tested for Covid-19.

Jury members in proceedings against Ross MacDougall, 32, and Dawn Smith, 29, were expecting to hear closing speeches on Tuesday from lawyers in the case.

The pair are standing trial at the High Court in Edinburgh on an allegation that they murdered Tracy Walker in Lerwick in July 2019.

However, on the 13th day of proceedings judge Lord Uist said the court would have to adjourn for the day.

He told the jury, who have been hearing evidence via video conferencing technology in a cinema located five miles from the court, that their fellow juror is feeling unwell.

The judge said: “As you may have noticed one of your number, juror number one, is missing and I am afraid we have come up against yet another problem in the course of this trial.”

“Juror number one has been feeling unwell, has seen her doctor and has had a Covid test.”

Lord Uist said she couldn’t continue as a juror until she receives the result of the test which is expected later on Tuesday.

He added: “She is very keen to continue, which is understandable, and she hopes therefore she will be able to continue tomorrow.”

“As a result we are really in the situation where we have no option at this stage but to adjourn the trial until tomorrow morning.”

Lord Uist described the situation as unfortunate and added that there was nothing that could be done.

“I really do hope we will be able to start at 10 am tomorrow with the speech of the advocate depute.”

Prosecutors claim that on 30 July 2019 at Ladies Drive in Lerwick, Smith had “without reasonable excuse or lawful authority” a knife, “contrary to the Criminal Law (Consolidation) Scotland Act 1995.”

The second charges alleges that on the same date at the same location, MacDougall and Smith assaulted Tracy Walker and inflicted “blunt force trauma to her head by means unknown.”

It’s also alleged that the two accused compressed her neck with their hands and that they struck her repeatedly on the neck and hand with “a knife or similar instrument.”

Prosecutors claim that the two accused attempted to rob her of money and that they “did murder her.”

Both Mr MacDougall and Ms Smith have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The trial continues.

Court report by James Mulholland of Edinburgh Courts Press Services