An assault trial has been delayed after a sheriff turned down an offer from the accused to host the court in his bedroom.
James Scott, 60, made the bizarre offer to hold court in his home because he has a number of underlying health problems that make him high risk.
His lawyer told Perth Sheriff Court that Scott was wheelchair-bound and bedridden, and was too afraid to attend a trial in a public courtroom during the pandemic.
Solicitor Gary Fowlis told the court that Scott had made the offer to stay in bed and “attend” a trial virtually from his bedroom via a video link.
Scott, of Keptie Road, Arbroath, denies assaulting staff member Stephanie O’Brien inside Perth Prison on June 18 2019 by throwing a bag of urine which burst and showered her.
Mr Fowlis said: “He is very vulnerable and has a significant number of major health difficulties. He is absolutely terrified by the Covid pandemic.
“The court will be aware of the situation we are facing now and with the trial fixed for January 13, it will still be in the period of what’s being considered a lockdown.
“In my respectful submission, there is no prospect of him attending court that day.
“I would ask the court to consider adjourning in the hope that he can be vaccinated, and the trial can proceed later in the year.
“He is wheelchair-bound and confined to bed and the possibility of using a video link to remotely conduct the trial from his home was raised.”
Sheriff William Wood said: “It is clearly wholly inappropriate for the trial to take place with him at home for a number of reasons.
“He needs to go somewhere to give evidence. He can’t give evidence from his sickbed – that would amount to evidence that he was not fit for the trial at all.”
Fiscal depute Michael Sweeney told the court the Crown would normally oppose the motion to adjourn because of the age of the case, but would not do so in the circumstances.
He said: “I still think a video link option might be best, but it’s a case of finding a suitable location to do that.”
Getting Scott to his nearest court for the trial was discussed.
Sheriff Wood granted the motion to adjourn and postponed the trial until April.
The details on how to host the trial will be finalised at a later date.
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