Even a pandemic could not halt the juggernaut of justice that is Perth Sheriff Court.
Throughout 2021 we were the public’s eyes and ears at the centuries-old courthouse, as staff dealt with a daily conveyor belt of offending.
Here, we parcel up some of the most significant local cases from the last 12 months.
Click the links, sit back and r-live the good times.
You may be here some time though…
The nightmare next door
Lockdown 2020 may have inspired us to look out for our neighbours but feuds over the garden fence became something of a running theme.
The row between Terence Doyle and David Poole had been rumbling for 20 years and even led to a physical clash between the two octogenarians, which was described as “like a cage fight”.
In a written judgment, Sheriff Lindsay Foulis refused Mr Pooles’ bid for an interdict against Mr Doyle, saying: “It is hard to believe this action…commenced in late spring 2014 but there we are – such can be the nature of boundary disputes.”
Earlier this summer, Auchterarder businessman Rikki Millar was fined £400 for smashing his neighbours’ plant pot.
He said she accused him of drilling holes in his wall to spy on her – something Miss MacKenzie denied – and when he opened his diner, he received “slanderous” Facebook comments.
Miss MacKenzie said she was scared to go home but Sheriff William Wood rejected an injuction against Millar, claiming it would expose one side to “malicious” complaints.
In scenic Abernethy, Peter and Barbara Doogan have been having trouble with neighbour Grant Hunter.
They told prosecutors: “We can no longer stay next door to a nutter”.
He was ordered to compensate the Doogans for the loss of their £140 porcelain pot.
Mrs Doogan later branded the sentence as “a joke.”
Businessmen behaving badly
Standing in society is no barrier to bampottery.
A rare stamp landed well-known Kinross-shire businessman Richard Allcoat in the dock.
The philatelist, who runs a specialist shop in Kinross, pocketed a highly collectable £5,000 Penny Blue from a grieving family’s collection and tried to sell it on Ebay after they entrusted him to value it.
Allcoat, who has been a dealer for 20 years, was caught when the family noticed the stamp was gone.
Douglas Lammie, who runs a property firm in Glasgow, was jailed in December after he admitted stealing more than £43,000 worth of apparently random pieces of machinery to pay off loan sharks.
The former CEO of bookmaking giant Ladbrokes gambled with the law when he made off with a delivery driver’s car from outside a Perth kebab house after a drunken night out in the city centre.
Recently-retired Kenny Alexander, who as boss of Britain’s biggest betting firm commanded a net worth of around £23 million, accelerated away from the Marmaris takeaway in South Methven Street when the driver stepped inside to pick up an order.
The court was told the 52-year-old was seized by a “moment of madness” after he and his drinking buddy were refused entry to a taxi home.
He was fined £1,000 and banned from the road for a year.
In early June, Perth was shaken by the news of local man Ian Menzies’ sudden death.
The 55-year-old was discovered at his home in the city’s Scott Street.
Friends and well-wishers left bouquets of flowers, as well as a Celtic top signed by relatives, on his doorstep.
It is alleged he murdered his father on June 3 – five days before his body was discovered – by repeatedly striking him with a hammer, or similar weapon.
The 36-year-old is awaiting trial.
Domestic abuse in many guises
We were glad to expose instances of the he insidious, behind-closed-doors domestic abusers on our patch.
A woman linked to one of Tayside’s most infamous unsolved murders was tracked down by her ex-boyfriend and beaten with a wooden pole.
The new mum, who was cleared of killing young Traveller Annalise Johnstone, was found by police officers lying curled up on her bed, while Doyle was led away in handcuffs.
A “toxic” boyfriend was ordered to stay away from two former partners after he subjected them to eight years of abusive behaviour, angry outbursts and text threats.
Marc Cosgrove repeatedly raged at one of his girlfriends for little or no reason.
When the relationship ended, he posted on Facebook he would expose “her dirty little secrets”.
When the woman went to police, a domestic abuse taskforce interviewed an ex-girlfriend and found there was a pattern of such behaviour.
A former banking boss made malicious complaints about his ex-partner to her employers and racked up a £4,000 credit bill in her name as part of a 20-month campaign of cruelty.
Richard Meade bombarded his ex-partner with thousands of messages and repeatedly turned up at her work uninvited.
During their relationship, he tried to control and regulate her contact with her family.
The 37-year-old was found guilty after trial of engaging in a course of abusive behaviour towards his victim between April, 2019 and December, 2020.
Just say no…
Drugs continue to feature in many crimes.
A stranded drugs mule accepted a lift from police after he crashed his car on the A9, near Auchterarder – despite carrying two suitcases packed with £140,000 of cannabis.
Officers spotted Jesse Winsborough walking along the roadside carting the two heavy cases behind him.
The Good Samaritan officers noticed the strong smell of herbal cannabis when they loaded Winsborough’s cases into their car.
Perth firefighters uncovered a £30,000 cannabis factory while evacuating flats following a major blaze at a city centre kebab shop.
Residents were forced to flee when the Elrasheed takeaway erupted in flames earlier this year.
As crews tackled the blaze at the ground floor shop, officers rushed to clear smoke-filled flats upstairs.
In a second-storey property, they came across a “sophisticated” cannabis growing operation with around 50 plants.
He was jailed for 20 months.
Drug dealer John Jackson was snared with a £2,400 bag of street Valium after an undercover sting operation at a rural branch of Subway.
Detectives received a tip-off that the fast food restaurant on the A9 at Balhaldie, north of Dunblane, was being used as a meeting place for those involved in Tayside’s drug trade.
Officers swooped on Jackson after he was spotted sitting in a car outside, holding a suspect carrier bag.
A ‘naive’ drug dealer was caught with a suitcase packed with £10,000 worth of cannabis.
Police recovered the illicit stash when they raided Jamie Hunter’s home in St Madoes.
He tried to play down his role in the region’s drug trade, insisting he was looking after the suitcase for an unnamed friend.
However, Sheriff William Wood questioned suspicious text messages found on phones at the property, along with scales containing traces of drugs and a hand-written price list.
Sex criminals exposed
An important, if grim, part of our job.
A hot tub predator was jailed for sexually assaulting three women at his home in Perthshire.
Daniel Crees preyed on family friends after they climbed into his outdoor jacuzzi during barbecues and birthday parties.
When later confronted about the assaults by his wife of just a few days, the 46-year-old coffee shop boss flew into a violent rage and called his victims “whores”.
In each case, he touched the women’s private parts, over their swimwear – three times with his foot, and once with his hand.
A Tayside Tesco manager who sent explicit photos to children on social media was spared a prison sentence in September.
The 50-year-old shared obscene images of cartoon Family Guy with the 12 and 13-year-olds and pestered one girl for sex.
His online campaign, which went on for more than four weeks, was reported to police after he shared an image of a naked penis.
A senior Perth and Kinross Council social worker who sexually assaulted a colleague during a church meeting was ordered to pay his victim £500.
Perth childcare specialist George LeBlanc was placed on the Sex Offenders Register in September after he was found guilty of touching a female workmate’s leg under the table.
The 63-year-old tried to dismiss the incident as a practical joke that was badly received.
“I’m a bit of a joker,” he said at his trial.
LeBlanc, who retired in 2018, was described by his 57-year-old victim as “a good team leader” who became “touchy-feely and inappropriate.”
As with drugs, alcohol frequently plays its part.
A drunken Rangers fan who tried to steal a boat from a top Perthshire hotel was fined £200 in September.
The court heard how Lee Kennedy, from Onslow Road, Clydebank, was one of three football fans who tried to make off with the vessel after failing to catch their bus home the morning after the Scottish Cup quarter-final between Rangers and Livingston in September 2019.
Kennedy, 30 and fellow supporters Souness Clark and James Clark were spotted on the River Isla, jumping into and between two anchored, motorised fishing boats.
A teenage “vampire” who was hunted down by Perth residents after a sex attack on a young girl was locked up in July.
The semi-naked 17-year-old went on a terrifying rampage through a housing estate in the city’s Muirton area after binge watching a supernatural TV show and downing a cocktail of strong alcoholic drinks.
During the broad daylight assault, he told his terrified victim he was going to drag her into woods and rape her.
The “out of control” teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, roared like an animal and told the girl: “I’m a vampire.”
He was detained for 12 months.
A top chef’s career came to a juddering halt in June after he drunkenly smashed his car into a wall, days after celebrating the launch of his new restaurant at a five-star Perthshire resort.
Simon Kelman was arrested by police less than a week after the grand opening of his fine dining establishment Monadh, at the luxury Dunalastair Hotel Suites in Kinloch Rannoch.
File under ‘eugh’
As they say, there’s nowt queer as folk – and few queerer than appear below.
A peeping Tom pensioner hid a video camera in a Perthshire café bathroom to film customers using the toilet.
Pervert Raymond Finlay concealed the device under a sink at the Braco Coffee Shop.
The 75-year-old filmed several unsuspecting men and women using the facilities, while he sat eating lunch nearby.
He was caught when police reviewed the footage and saw that Finlay and unwittingly filmed himself.
A neighbour-from-hell repeatedly launched faeces-covered toilet paper from a top floor city centre flat, leading to a costly clean-up bill for Perth and Kinross Council.
John Cameron pled guilty to three complaints of hurling soiled loo roll from his former attic flat on Market Street.
Cameron was evicted after repeated breaches and now lives in hotel accommodation in Glasgow.
A wannabe Perth actor who was caught on camera having sex with a German Shepherd dog has been banned from keeping pets.
Police also uncovered a sick cache of child abuse images and extreme pornography when they raided Ewan Cole’s home in Stanley.
Amongst the obscene files appeared to be a home movie of the 20-year-old engaged in sexual activity with a dog.
He also pled guilty to having indecent photos of children between December 12, 2019, and March 3, 2020.
Sheriff William Wood decided against sending Cole to prison, but banned him from keeping pets.
Here’s to 2022.
The full caseload of the Dundee Crime and Courts Team can be found here.