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Weekend court roll – our round-up of the most-read cases of the week

Our reporters have been sitting in courtrooms across the north and north-east this week and covered a wide variety of cases.

Lead stolen from Jack Nicklaus golf development

On Monday, a man was jailed after stealing thousands of pounds worth of lead from the site of Jack Nicklaus’ £80 million golf course to pay off his drug debts.

Steven Millar pocketed £15,000 after flogging lead he’d stolen from the roof of Ury House in Stonehaven to a scrap dealer in Aberdeen.

Steven Millar.

The lead, which cost £35,000 to replace, was sold to pay off debts the 28-year-old had racked up through a cocaine addiction.

But Millar, who also nabbed lead from the roof of Grey Lodge, in Kirriemuir, was caught after leaving his DNA at the scene.

Postie’s drink-drive shame

A postman who drove on the Aberdeen bypass while more than four-times the legal drink-drive limit has been banned from the road.

Michael Sangster has “no idea” why he decided to break his unblemished driving record by jumping behind the wheel after drinking alcohol on October 9 this year.

The 39-year-old, of Westhill, was caught out after an off-duty policeman noticed him driving slowly and crossing between lanes on the Aberdeen bypass near its junction with the A93.

The officer suspected Sangster was under the influence so tailed him and, when Sangster pulled over to the side of the road, took the opportunity to remove the keys from the ignition of the Audi A3.

Arrest warrant issued for Facebook troll

Police have been told to track down a Facebook troll who abused a former north-east politician.

Reece Cuthbert, 26, had a warrant issued for his arrest after failing to appear for a sentencing hearing at Dundee Sheriff Court.

Reece Cuthbert abused Ross Thomson online.

Cuthbert previously admitted targeting former Conservative MP Ross Thomson in July 2019.

He is currently the subject of a structured deferred sentence, which involves him meeting with social workers before the case being disposed of.

Man accused of raping 15-year-old

A man has appeared in court accused of raping a 15-year-old girl in Peterhead.

Dylan Kearney appeared in private at Aberdeen Sheriff Court following the alleged incident on Saturday at a property in the Aberdeenshire town.

The 21-year-old faced a single charge during the hearing – rape.

Kearney, whose general address was given in court documents as Aberdeen, did not enter a plea during the behind-closed-door hearing.

Cannabis farm found after police chase

A late-night high-speed police chase led officers to an attic cannabis farm.

Duncan Shelley, 31, caught officers’ attention as he sped down the A9 in a borrowed van in the early hours of September 9 last year.

Duncan Shelley

But by the time police caught up with the vehicle, it had crashed down an embankment and there was no sign of the driver.

After enquiries revealed Shelley to be the driver police paid a visit to his home – and discovered seven cannabis plants growing in the attic.

Chair leg attacker jailed

A violent thug who received a character reference from a prison officer was jailed for six years after launching an unprovoked attack on a man with a chair leg.

Alexander Stewart battered his victim with the makeshift weapon leaving him needing stitches and suffering a bleed on the brain.

A judge told Stewart, 36, that he had inflicted “gratuitous and extreme violence” on Sean Hendry during the assault at the victim’s home.

Lord Beckett said at the High Court in Edinburgh: “There was no provocation and no justification for what you did.”

Drink driver crashed car

A drunk driver who crashed a car on top of a dyke while he gave his boozy grandad a lift home avoided jail but must carry out unpaid work and adhere to a curfew.

David Gillespie was already banned from the road at the time but got behind the wheel of his grandad’s car after it was agreed he was “least drunk” of the two.

David Gillespie appeared at Peterhead Sheriff Court.

The 29-year-old, who had served less than two months of a previous roads ban when he crashed the car, was so drunk he struggled to stand up straight, Peterhead Sheriff Court was told.

As well as drinking lager and vodka, the nightshift worker and father-of-one had smoked cannabis.

Police officer to stand trial over sex assault claim

A Moray police officer who has been accused of carrying out sexual assault in a police station is due to stand trial next month.

Kyle MacKinnon, from Elgin, allegedly seized a woman by the body and attempted to kiss her at Keith police station sometime between November 28 and December 18, 2018.

Keith Police Station. Supplied by Google Maps

The 37-year-old is also accused of repeatedly sending images of a sexual nature to the same woman between the same dates.

A third charge alleges that he also repeatedly sent messages of a sexual nature through social media app Snapchat during the same period.

Former Highland football coach accused of sex attacks on boys

A former Highland children’s football coach faced a string of child sex offences on Tuesday.

Mark McAuley, 31, who ran children’s after school football coaching sessions across Ross-shire and Sutherland with his Do Soccer organisation, is facing nine charges involving four boys.

He is accused of sexually assaulting two children under the age of 13 and two charges of engaging in sexual activity with boys under the age of 16.

McAuley also faced three charges of directing a verbal sexual communication to a child and one of causing a child to hear a verbal sexual communication, as well as a single charge of causing a child to look at a sexual image.

Snapchat sex attacker avoids jail

A supermarket worker who sexually assaulted two teenage girls after befriending them on Snapchat has returned to court for sentencing.

Nathan Ross gave his victims lifts in his car before groping them and forcing them to touch his genitals.

Nathan Ross was found guilty of sexually assaulting two girls he met over Snapchat

The 22-year-old was found guilty by Sheriff Sara Matheson after trial at Inverness Sheriff Court in September and sentence was deferred for a background report.

It recommended that he be placed under supervision and do unpaid work as a punishment rather than go to prison and Sheriff Matheson agreed.

Man accused of two rapes

A man has appeared in court facing two charges of rape – including one dating back to 2015, when he was just 16.

Oluwatayo Dada appeared in private at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

The 22-year-old is accused of raping a woman at an address in Aberdeen city centre on October 19 this year.

And he is also alleged to have raped another female in the Bieldside area of Aberdeen in July 2015 – when he was just 16 years old.

Sick stash of indecent images found on phone

A man has admitted downloading more than 500 indecent images of children over 18-month period.

Inverness Sheriff Court was told that David Mitchell, whose address on court papers was given as Hillhead Road, Tornagrain, near Inverness, had 104 images of the most graphic kind.

Mitchell, 32, appeared before Sheriff Margaret Neilson and admitted having downloaded the material on his mobile phone between March 8 2019 and September 24 2020.

Fiscal depute Robert Weir told the court: “On 14 September 2020 officers from the national child abuse investigation unit, Inverness, received information that a device had been involved in child abuse images from an IP address where the accused lives.”

Jail warning for £103k drug dealer

On Wednesday, a man was given a jail warning after being caught with more than £100,000 of heroin and cocaine he’d transported from London to sell in Aberdeen.

Jaydon Eka hired a BMW sports car to drive to the Granite City but appeared “nervous and evasive” when police spotted and questioned him on Burnbrae Crescent in Aberdeen.

Jaydon Eka.

The 26-year-old then legged it and was seen “running frantically and flailing his arms about”, before tripping and falling over, allowing officers to catch up with him.

Officers found two sets of car keys on Eka, and a search of the BMW and a SEAT Leon uncovered drugs worth the six-figure sum.

Man sent sick messages to child of police officer

A 38-year-old man who sent sexually explicit messages to three 14-year-old girls was caught when one of his victims told her dad – a police officer.

Grant Morris – who exchanged a total of 59,000 messages with one girl – pretended to be a teenager from Edinburgh when he contacted the young girls on social media.

He has now pleaded guilty to sending sexually explicit messages to the schoolfriends during a 15-month period.

Between May 1 2018 and March 19 2019 at his home address – in Voeside, Bressay on Shetland – and elsewhere he sent the messages via social media to the first victim.

Stupid stunt lands man in court

On Thursday, a man was handed unpaid work after wrapping a tea towel around his ex’s neck in a “stupid and reckless attempt at a practical joke”.

Aaron McIntyre wrapped the towel around the woman’s throat and pulled backwards and upwards.

Aaron McIntyre.

But when she became upset, the 39-year-old snapped: “You’re no fun anymore. You can’t take a joke.”

It comes just two months after McIntyre was sentenced over sending explicit messages to an online paedophile hunter posing as 15-year-old girl.

Cannabis used to help ADHD symptoms

A man whose cannabis growing operation was discovered by police said he was using the drug to treat his own ADHD.

A tip-off led police to Alexander O’Neill’s home in Market Street, Ullapool, where they discovered cannabis being grown in October last year.

Alexander O’Neill grew cannabis to treat his ADHD

But a court heard that the fisherman had only turned to growing the drug in order to self-medicate the ADHD he had suffered since he was a child.

O’Neill, 32, appeared for sentencing at Inverness Sheriff Court yesterday having previously pled guilty to a single charge of producing, and two charges of possession of, a controlled Class B drug.

Drink-driver overtook police car

A drink-driver has been fined and banned from the road after police in an unmarked car clocked him driving at twice the speed limit.

Mark Astill overtook an unmarked police car in his white Audi on Holburn Street – before zooming off at 60mph, despite the 30mph limit.

Mark Astill.

When officers caught up and pulled him over they noticed a smell of alcohol.

A breath test confirmed their suspicions and the 44-year-old was arrested.

Man facing rape charges

A man is to stand trial accused of raping three women, two while they were pregnant, and pushing another’s hand into a food blender.

Daniel Malone faces a total of 19 charges.

The alleged offences are said to have happened in Kirkcaldy and Cardenden in Fife, as well as a number of addresses in Aberdeen, between 2006 and 2020.

The first woman the 31 year-old allegedly raped is also said have been physically assaulted when she was pregnant, as well having her hand pushed into a food blender.

Pensioner cleared of raping woman

A Moray pensioner has been acquitted of raping a woman he took home from a night out.

Alexander Beaton appeared at the High Court in Aberdeen this week during a three-day trial, which concluded with jurors unanimously returning a not proven verdict.

Alexander Beaton outside the High Court in Aberdeen

The 69-year-old had been accused of raping the 57-year-old woman in Forres in April 2019.

The divorced grandfather denied rape and told police during an interview that she was “absolutely minced” and that any sexual contact was consensual.

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