Spean Bridge man admonished after assault conviction

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A Spean Bridge man found guilty of assaulting his ex-partner by seizing her by the hair, was admonished because of his good behaviour since the offence.

Liam Stewart, 21, appeared for trial last Wednesday after pleading not guilty to two charges of assault.

Sheriff Eilidh MacDonald found Stewart, a first offender, not guilty of assaulting the woman in Fort William High Street between January 1 2016 and December 31 2016.

However, she found him guilty of assaulting her by seizing her by the hair on August 6 2017 outside a nightclub in the town.

The court heard the woman, a 20-year-old waitress, had been in a relationship with Stewart from 2015 to 2016 but this had ended in September 2016.

However, the couple maintained contact after the break up and it was while on a night out in the town that the woman’s current boyfriend had learned of the continued association.

All three had been in the nightclub and the court heard Stewart and the woman had ended up in an argument and she was told to leave the premises by the bouncer.

She left and her boyfriend, Jordan Gorman, from Poolewe, and his friend Joseph Smith, of Aultbea, who both gave evidence as Crown witnesses, had followed her out.

Stewart had also emerged and the two continued arguing. ‘I was telling him [Stewart] to leave me alone and that he needed to move on and it was then he dragged me to the ground by my hair. Jordan then picked him off me. I was in shock, I was terrified,’ the woman told Procurator Fiscal Martina Eastwood.

Quizzed by defence agent Clare Russell, the woman admitted she might have knocked a glass out of his hand in the nightclub during their argument but denied swearing at Stewart or punching him .

Ms Russell put it to Gorman, 21, that he along with the woman and Smith had concocted the allegations against Stewart and the truth was that he and Smith had beaten Stewart so badly he had been rendered unconscious.

Gorman also denied this, as did Smith, 20, a catering assistant.

It was at this point the Procurator Fiscal told the court the Crown was no longer insisting on charge one.

Giving evidence, Stewart, who has since married and is employed as a forestry machine operator, claimed it was him who had been assaulted by the other three.

‘I managed to pull free and the only contact I had with her was when I pushed her away,’ he told the court.

‘The next thing I remember is waking up in an ambulance.’

Summing up, Mrs Eastwood said the Crown witnesses had all given their evidence in a credible fashion.

‘But there are significant differences in what the accused told the police in March last year and what he said today. I therefore invite Your Ladyship to find him unreliable as a witness,’ she added.

In her summing up, Ms Russell said: ‘It is all very convenient that the witnesses all have such a clear recollection of something that happened a considerable time ago and I suggest it is clear there has been some sort of collusion in that respect.’

Sheriff MacDonald found Stewart formally not guilty on the first assault charge, but guilty as libelled on the second.

However, Sheriff MacDonald said she would admonish Stewart and told him it was due to his good behaviour since the time of the offence.

But she commented: ‘Although I believe the three Crown witnesses, I am not particularly impressed with anyone’s behaviour that evening.’