Man walks free as Crown fails to locate witnesses

Selkirk Sheriff Court.Selkirk Sheriff Court.
Selkirk Sheriff Court.
A Hawick man due to stand trial for a charge of sexual assault and breaching court orders by contacting a named woman has walked free from Selkirk Sheriff Court.

Due to witnesses not appearing, the Crown requested a new date for the trial involving 39-year-old Christopher Murray of Silverbuthall Road.

He was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in the Waverley Bar in High Street, Hawick, on July 17 and also two other charges of contacting the woman in the Waverley Bar and Wellfield Road, Hawick, in July and September when bail orders prevented him from doing so.

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The Crown motion was opposed by defence lawyer Ed Hulme who pointed out a previous trial had been postponed due to witnesses not being available and he added the Crown had been unable to serve citations on the witnesses. He pointed out there was a "crippling backlog of cases" and another adjournment would just add to that.

Mr Hulme said it would not be fair on his client to be sent away with the case still hanging over him.

Sheriff Peter Paterson refused the Crown motion to adjourn the trial saying it was the second trial and the Crown still had no idea where the witnesses were.

He accepted there was a considerable backlog of cases occupying the court time and given the situation with the witnesses he felt it was in the public interest to refuse the motion. With the witnesses not being present, the Crown declined to lead any evidence and as a result Murray was found not guilty of all three charges.