Missing witness escapes contempt penalty

A WITNESS, who failed to turn up for a trial at Wick Sheriff Court, has escaped being held in contempt.
Dominic Long's non-appearance meant that a November session of a vandalism trial had to be adjourned. A warrant was issued for Long's address but he subsequently gave himself up.
At the final session of the trial, yesterday, Long, 19, appeared from custody to give evidence in the trial of Noel Sutherland, who denied throwing a stone which smashed the living room window of the Long family's home in Ormlie Crescent.
The trial ended with Sutherland, 25, being found guilty of the offence. Afterwards, Long was taken to task for his earlier non-appearance.
Sheriff Andrew Berry said that when witnesses fail to turn up it causes "considerable problems" for the court. He said that Long had now given his evidence as a witness to the incident, with a clear head because, being in prison, he was not using or abusing "inappropriate substances".
The sheriff advised Long to focus on staying away from such abuse, when he comes out of prison and warned that failing to do so was only going to lead to further offending but added he would not find him in contempt.
Sheriff Berry rejected the evidence of defence witnesses who said that Sutherland, of 9 Hakon Road, Thurso had been with them at his home, at the time of the incident, October 27, last year.
He said the prosecution witnesses had been "reliable and credible" and he was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of the accused's guilt.
Sutherland will be sentenced on April 17, when his community service imposed on an unrelated offence, comes up for review.