Sheriff warns against false Covid claims to avoid court appearances

A sheriff has issued a warning that falsely using Covid-19 symptoms as an excuse not to appear in court could be regarded as contempt.

By Court Reporter
Friday, 4th September 2020, 11:09 am
Jedburgh Sheriff Court.
Jedburgh Sheriff Court.

Peter Paterson was speaking from the bench at Jedburgh Sheriff Court in the case of a 30-year-old man who failed to appear for sentence for being involved in a domestic-related disturbance and two breaches of bail conditions.

Defence lawyer Mat Patrick explained his client Darren Devlin had contacted him to say he would not be attending court.

He had told his lawyer was experiencing coronavirus-like symptoms and he had booked a test that morning in his home town of Hawick, which has suffered a cluster of cases recently.

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Sheriff Paterson appeared sceptical at the reasons for Devlin’s late call-off and demanded medical evidence for the no-show.

He stated: “He will be required to produce evidence that he had an appointment and attended the test.

“If he cannot exhibit the appointment and test outcome when the case next calls I will consider holding him in contempt.

“It is one thing to exaggerate the symptoms, particularly with something like Covid-19, and another thing making this an excuse not to appear, and the court would take an extremely dim view of this if that was the case.”

Devlin of Wellfield Park, had previously pleaded guilty to behaving in a threatening or abusive manner at his partner’s home in Inchmyre, Kelso, in February and two breaches of bail conditions by defying court orders.

Sentence was deferred until September 14 for a personal appearance and for him to lodge evidence of his Covid-19 test.