View Full Version : Crown Office criticised

15-Aug-16, 09:08
Concern over lack of case flexibility

THE Crown Office, which is responsible for criminal prosecutions in Scotland, has been taken to task by Wick's sheriff over its lack of flexibility in deciding where certain cases are heard.
Sheriff Andrew Berry spoke out at the weekend, after learning that a Thurso assault indictment was diverted to Inverness Sheriff Court, earlier this month, because there was no court sitting at Wick.
The sheriff said that the case, called at the Highland capital's court on August 9, should have been transferred to Kirkwall Sheriff Court where he was sitting the time.
The accused involved, John Glover - represented by solicitor, Fiona MacDonald - was remanded, first to Inverness prison and then moved to Perth prison after his appearance at the court and is due to make a further appearance, at Wick on August 22nd.
The sheriff continued: "I have told Crown Office, repeatedly, that the sheriff courts at Wick and Kirkwall are to be treated as if they are one and the same court because I sit at both and Miss MacDonald practices at both. If a case can't be dealt with in this court, it should be dealt with in Kirkwall."
Sheriff Berry added: "I don't want this situation to happen again."
Glover, 46, denies assaulting Iwan Watson Jones and robbing him in Princes Street, Thurso and robbing him of about 100. and assaulting Sion Watson Jones and robbing him of 8. The incidents are said to have occurred on January 29.

Delay in completing agreed evidence paper questioned

The sheriff also expressed some concern about a delay in the preparation of an agreement document aimed at reducing the length of a jury trial.
The case in question, involves Thrumster man, Konstanty Bembnista, accused of historic assaults on his former wife Marie Islam.
The jury previously heard the first three days of the trial in earlier this year.
Sheriff Berry make his comment today when preparations for the remainder of the case, scheduled to start on August 22, were being discussed. The minute of agreement is employed where the prosecution and the defence identify areas of evidence which are not in dispute and this can short-circuit the timescale of a trial.
Fiscal depute Fraser Matheson, who is not prosecuting in the case, said he understood however, that discussions were ongoing with a view to trying to reduce the number of witness some of whom will be giving their evidence by video link.
Sheriff Berry said that a lot of resources had been put in place for the trial - special arrangements have been made to relay the evidence to Bambnista in the dock - and went on: "That was five months ago and here we are, a week before the trial restarts, discussing a joint minute. I want the joint minute in the hands of the sheriff clerk no later than 3pm on Wednesday. I would have thought that one of the first things after the initial sitting would have been a joint minute, giving you an opportunity to gauge the length of the trial so that jurors can be advised about their attendance."
Bembnista is alleged to have subjected Marie Islam to a series of assaults at their then home, Kyleburn Cottage, nea, Mid Clyth, between June 19091 and July 2013. The accused, now living at The Meadows, Thrumster, also denies stalking Mrs Islam in Edinburgh and threatening her and repeatedly phoning her.
Giving evidence by video link from Edinburgh Sheriff Court, she said that Bembnista had a short fused and there was hardly a day passed without an argument or an assault.
Mrs Islam painted a damning picture of the accused as a control freak who dictated her daily life and actions. even to the extent of choosing what she should take from a mail order catalogue.
Bembnista has been given special permission to have his Jack Russell dog with him in the dock. He is said to be hard of hearing although doubt on that was cast in evidence by Mrs Islam.
Computer operators have been engaged to key evidence onto screens as it unfolds, enabling Bembmista to follow what is being said..