View Full Version : Case postponed

24-Mar-16, 08:43
Bug halts Wick jury trial again

A JURY TRIAL has been halted by a bug... for the second time in three days.
On Monday, the case, involving alleged domestic assault and stalking, was adjourned before it was due to get underway at Wick, when Sheriff Andrew Berry announced that both fiscal depute Karen Smith and sheriff clerk, Jan McEwan, had succumbed to the virus and were unable to appear.
The case was continued until yesterday, when both officials were back in action. However Sheriff Berry had to report a third casualty, defence agent, Fiona MacDonald who was present in court.
The next witness was preparing to give his evidence over a video link from Edinburgh Sheriff Court when the sheriff said it was clear that the solicitor was "not fit to continue" and would not be able to "play a full part in the proceedings".
A further continuation of the case was, he said, necessary "to ensure that the interests of justice will be served".
Sheriff Berry said hat he had considered at length, various options, one of which was to postpone the trial until Tuesday after the Easter holiday weekend, but even if it was possible to resume the trial then, it would mean that it was the first evidence the jury would have heard for 12 days.
The sheriff told the jury that it would not be in the interests of justice to expect them to "pick up the ball and run with it" after such a gap. He also made the point that, preparing for such in important case and conducting cross examination was a tough task for any defence solicitor, in good health.
Sheriff Berry commented it was the first time he had encountered such "an unusual situation" in his four decades in the law. The trial will resume on August 22nd.
The accused in the case is 68-year-old, Glasgow born, Konstanty Bembnista, who denies on indictment, historic charges of assaulting his former wife, Marie Islam, at their previous home, Kyleburn Cottage, in the Caithness village of Lybster, and stalking her and threatening her in Edinburgh. The offences are alleged to have occurred between June 1991 and July 2013.
During the three days of prosecution evidence, to date, Mrs Islam told of the harrowing, physical and mental behaviour inflicted on her by her control-freak husband. They had married in Livingston and moved north to start a new life in their idyllic home which proved to be a dream that turned sour.
Speaking on the video link, she told how she was "humiliated and degraded" by 6ft, 2ins, 20 stone, Bembnista. Not a day past but there was an argument or an assault at their home during which she was dragged along the floor by Bembnista on one occasion during while being bitten on the legs by their two dogs. Other times, he spat in her face or threw a drink at her and punched her.
Mrs Islam, 47, who since remarried, said that Bembnista had "a short fuse" and would throw the first thing that came to hand, on one occasion it was an encyuclopedia. She had tried to get away from him but was always pursued and brought back to the cottage. Mrs Islam said that the accused ruled her life and made all the daily decisions, even to the extent of choosing what clothes she should order from a mail catalogue.