Crown Office responds to Dundee sheriff’s criticism after he threw case out



The Crown Office has responded to a Dundee sheriff’s criticism of it as “ill-informed and wrong” after he lambasted prosecutors for bringing a case to trial which fell apart in less than an hour, The Courier reports.

Sheriff Alastair Brown said the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) had erred by bringing the case to trial given as the accused had offered to plead guilty to a reduced charge.

The sheriff had said: “I don’t know how the Crown ever hoped to seek a conviction at trial.”

Dundee Sheriff Court had heard how Mark Courage, 26, had added mayonnaise to the drink of a man with severe learning disabilities at Elmgrove Care Home in the city.

Mr Courage had offered to plead guilty so long as prosecutors removed the allegation his act was “aggravated by prejudice relating to disability”.

However, Crown Office rules would not allow for prosecutors to accept the plea and so the case went to trial.

The case was thrown out due to a lack of corroboration.

Sheriff Brown said: “There’s no conceivable basis for suggesting what was done manifested prejudice and it is regrettable this case was ever brought.”

Responding to the judge’s comments, a spokesperson for the Crown Office said: “The sheriff’s comments at the conclusion of the case were ill-informed and wrong.

“The evidential position that existed prior to the trial was not known to the sheriff. It is for the Crown to decide whether criminal proceedings should be brought in any case and these were appropriately raised here.”