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Thursday court round-up — Hash in the attic (and multiple bags)

The Courier's latest round-up of stories from the court rooms of Tayside and Fife, or featuring people from the area.

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At Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court, James Nelson, 63, admitted dealing £9,580 worth of cannabis on January 6 2022 at his home in Bow Street, Buckhaven.

Prosecutor Ronnie Hay told the court police forced entry to the property, arrested Nelson and seized multiple bags containing different weights of cannabis, as well as quantities of cash.

Cannabis plants were also found in the attic.

Sheriff Steven Borthwick adjourned sentencing until June 19 to obtain background reports and Nelson’s bail was continued meantime.

A confiscation hearing was also fixed following a motion by the prosecution under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Hotel death

Hotel boss Declan Howard admitted health and safety violations following the death of a guest in Drummonds, Markinch in November 2019. Niall Vernon, from Norwich, was found dead in a dark emergency stairwell. Howard, 32, from Crieff, who was head chef at the hotel before taking ownership, will be sentenced next month.

Delan Howard, Drummonds, Niall Vernon
Declan Howard (left) pled guilty to health and safety breaches which led to the death of Niall Vernon (right) in Drummonds, Markinch. Image: Supplied by Digby Brown/DC Thomson

No case to answer

A man has been acquitted of a life-threatening assault in Crieff.

Francis Speed, 43, walked free after a trial at Perth Sheriff Court ended with a successful no-case-to-answer submisision.

He had denied, with another man, Ross MacMillan, attacking a male as he walked through Leadenflower Court on July 2 2021.

The pair were alleged to have punched him to the head, causing him to fall to the ground, rendering him unconscious and repeatedly kicking him on the head and body to his severe injury, permanent impairment and danger of his life.

Mr MacMillan, 35, was found not guilty midway through the trial.

Mr Speed’s solicitor David Holmes argued there was no corroboration to prove his client carried out any attack and Sheriff Jennifer Bain KC agreed.

Leadenflower Court
Leadenflower Court, Crieff. Image: Google.

The alleged victim earlier told jurors he was “drunk” and on his way to catch a bus home.

He said he heard a woman screaming, then saw Mr MacMillan come out a close “looking tweaked as f***”.

He added: “I was rude. I don’t recall exactly what I said but I said something derogatory.”

He suffered a blow to the back of the head and woke in Ninewells the next day.

The trial heard the words of a neighbour who declined to sign her police statement for fear of “backlash from the community”.

She said she saw Mr Fairlie “gurgling, with blood coming from his eyes and ears”.

Another witness said he barely remembered the incident and could not recall making a police statement.

Strip poker paedo

A perverted Scout leader from Fife plied boys with alcohol and then made them play strip poker during a hillwalking trip in the Highlands. Three-times convicted paedophile John Somerville gave his 12 and 13-year-old victims lager and alcopops before making them perform naked forfeits.

John Somerville
Paedophile Fife Scout leader John Somerville has been convicted for a third time.

Rooftop siege

A reckless Arbroath teenager hurled roof tiles and scaffolding materials at police during a five-and-a-half-hour rooftop siege.

Ethan Grant,19. forced a road closure and police scramble on January 30 last year.

He will be sentenced next month.

Fiscal depute Joanne Ritchie explained to Dundee Sheriff Court that days before the siege, Grant was assessed at Carseview following a welfare incident at Arbroath harbour which had also attracted emergency services attention.

His conduct was described as “behavioural” but three days later, emergency services rushed to deal with him again when he sent a concerning Snapchat message to a friend.

The friend rushed by bicycle to Millgate Loan, where he found him sitting on the roof’s apex with headphones in, covering his eyes.

Police were called and quickly attended but Grant began hurling roof slates, with a number of “near misses” and one struck on the shin.

Police set up a cordon and residents came and moved their cars as the fire service also arrived.

Grant began dismantling scaffolding around the building, throwing large planks of wood and metal parts.

Grant eventually began engaging at 1.30am – more than four and a half hours after the alarm was raised – and came down from the roof.

At court, Grant pled guilty to culpably and reckless conduct on January 30 and possessing a razor blade on January 27 and – in a separate incident involving police – a Stanley knife on February 11 last year.

Killer hit-and-run

A killer hit-and-run driver was in a stolen Audi with a cloned registration plate when he struck a pedestrian in Fife last year. Darren McPhee, 32, was driving dangerously when his vehicle hit Stephen Davis, killing him, on High Street, Cowdenbeath, on September 14 2023.

Stephen Davis died after a crash on Cowdenbeath's High Street.
Stephen Davis (pictured) died after being hit by McPhee on Cowdenbeath’s High Street. Image: Police Scotland

Jaw break threat

William McAllister, 20, left a 15-year-old boy “terrified” during a failed robbery bid on St Clair Street, Kirkcaldy on April 24 this year.

Prosecutor Ronnie Hay said McAllister initially asked the boy to walk him across the street because he was drunk.

The boy declined and tried to get past but McAllister would not let him, then asked for money and said: “I’ve got a blade on me”.

The fiscal depute said: “The complainer was terrified but still kept walking while he worked out what to do”.

McAllister began searching through his pockets and said: “We’re gonnae walk to the cash machine to get me £20 out.

“If you don’t, I’m gonnae break your jaw”.

The boy said he did not have a bank card and McAllister repeated the threat but the victim managed to run off.

When charged, McAllister replied: “It was not me, it was someone else” but appearing at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court by video link to prison he admitted assault and attempted robbery.

Sentencing was deferred until June 19 for background reports and McAllister was remanded.

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