A Ross-shire man who admitted wasting police time after falsely claiming to have murdered someone in woodland has avoided a prison sentence.
A major search was launched involving police and Coastguard teams after Donald Macleod lied about stabbing a man to death in Blackmuir Wood, Strathpeffer.
Inverness Sheriff Court heard that the 54-year-old rang police on April 6 2021 to confess to the imaginary crime and even gave details of what he’d done to the man.
He told officers that the man’s body could be found in a pond.
However, subsequent investigations revealed the man named as Macleod’s alleged target was already deceased and could not possibly have been his victim.
‘I killed a man. This must be the easiest case ever.’
Macleod’s revelations meant officers had to reassure concerned residents that a killer was not on the loose.
In interviews, Macleod told officers that he and his “victim” had argued and then agreed to meet at the woods to “have it out”.
He said a fight broke out and he stabbed the man before fleeing the scene when he heard a car approaching.
The court heard Macleod told detectives: “It’s an open and shut case. I killed a man. This must be the easiest case ever.”
However, fiscal depute Alison Young told the court: “It was all made up.”
‘If you breach these orders, you will go to jail.’
Defence agent Clare Russell said: “Unfortunately alcohol has been a feature of his life since an early age which began on the Isle of Skye.
“I would hope that given his lack of record, the court could impose a restriction of liberty order as an alternative to custody as he is unfit for unpaid work.”
Sheriff Margaret Neilson agreed but commented: “It is over the threshold for prison.”
She ordered Macleod, of Park Terrace, Strathpeffer, to remain in his home between the hours of 7pm and 7am for the next six months, and handed him an 18-month supervision order.
But she warned him: “If you breach these orders, you will go to jail. You only escaped jail today because you accepted responsibility at the earliest opportunity.”