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Court / Accused bailed after spending over half a year in custody

A MAN from Shetland has been released from custody just in time for Christmas after spending over seven months behind bars while awaiting trial.

Defence agent Tommy Allan successfully argued at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Tuesday for Adam Nelson, 31, to be bailed after initially being remanded in custody in May.

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Nelson, whose address was given in court as Leaside, is accused of four charges, including repeatedly striking a man on the body with an axe to his injury at an address in Mossbank on 5 May.

In an appearance from custody via videolink on Tuesday Nelson adhered to his pleas of not guilty.

Allan sought bail for his client, saying the coronavirus pandemic “meant that Mr Nelson has been in custody for a period of time longer than he would normally expect to be”.

He said Nelson had been in custody for 229 days, which was the equivalent of a prison sentence of 15 months.

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During the pandemic there have been delays in the justice system, particularly for trials.

Allan added that coronavirus had also been causing concern personally for Nelson while in custody, with reports of Covid being present in the prison.

He said he also had pets back home which have had to be looked after by friends since he was remanded – a snake, a hedgehog and a tortoise.

Allan added that his client was on an upward curve having given up illegal drugs.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said the time Nelson had spent in custody caused a “degree of unease”.

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Sheriff Ian Cruickshank sought clarity on the injuries sustained in the charge involving the axe.

Mackenzie replied that it was minor, superficial injuries.

Sheriff Cruickshank said in reference to the pandemic that “we find ourselves in exceptionally strange circumstances”.

He said he has disrupted all areas of life, particularly the justice system.

The sheriff said it might not be until March that Nelson could realistically face trial, which would also likely be in Aberdeen.

“By the time of a trial Mr Nelson will have been remanded for a considerably longer period,” Sheriff Cruickshank said.

The sheriff agreed to release Nelson on bail on two special conditions – that he does not approach or contact the complainer, and that he stays in his home between 7pm and 7am, seven days a week.

Nelson will next appear in court on 21 January 2021.

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