Border sheriff’s anger after Yetholm woman, 72, spends night in Edinburgh cells

Sheriff Kevin Drummond
Sheriff Kevin Drummond

A SHERIFF has hit out at the justice system after a 72-year-old woman was locked up overnight after pouring a can of cider over her drunken husband who had accused her of having a affairs.

First offender Carole Horsburgh was arrested yesterday afternoon and spent the night in police cells in Edinburgh before appearing from custody at Selkirk Sheriff Court today charged with assault.

The court heard that police and prosecutors had strict policy guidelines to adhere to in cases of domestic violence.

Horsburgh’s solicitor Rory Bannerman claimed it was a case of political correctness gone wrong.

And Sheriff Kevin Drummond took the rare step of granting an absolute discharge to the pensioner.

He told her:”You are 72 and never been in trouble before. You have never had a previous conviction and you still don’t have, because I am granting an absolute discharge.”

And he went on:“ It is unfortunate you had to go through what you have, but people charged with the responsibility of applying the law are told by others what they are to do.”

The sheriff said police and the procurator fiscal were “deprived of discretion”. But added: “I am not.”

He then granted the absolute discharge and wished the bespectacled pensioner a safe journey home.

Horsburgh pleaded guilty to a charge of pouring a drink over her husband George, seizing him by the clothing, pushing him and slapping him on the head during a bust-up at their home in Grafton Court, Town Yetholm, yesterday afternoon.

Prosecutor Tessa Bradley told the court that the husband had been drinking around 4pm. and an argument ensued and he accused her of having affairs in the past and mentioned a couple of names.

The fiscal added:”She picked up a can of cider and poured it over him. She grabbed his clothing and slapped him on the head.

“She then stopped and went out of the living room to calm down. He called the police. There was no injury.”

Horsburgh told police: “He had been going on about having the affairs and I went for him. I am sick to death of being called a slapper or a whore.”

The couple have been married for 25 years and the husband is said to have a problem with drink.

Mr Bannerman told the court: “There is never an excuse for domestic violence, but this is political correctness gone wrong.

“Here we have a 72-year-old with an unblemished record, of good behaviour and who has been the victim of difficulties with her husband whose behaviour gets out of control, and she spends a night in custody.”

Mr Bannerman said his client strenuously refuted the allegations of affairs from a dozen years ago.

He added:”They have no basis in fact. She gave up smoking three weeks ago and was a little bit on edge and eventually lost the rag.”

Mr Bannerman said that when police officers arrived and took Horsburgh away, they heard the husband crying as he realised what he had done.

Horsburgh had been taken to Kelso police station before being transferred to St Leonard’s Police Station in Edinburgh where cells for females are available.

She was taken driven back to the Borders in the morning to face court.