West Linton man detained after failing to pay for lodgings

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A man accused of obtaining lodgings from two Borders establishments and running up a bill of almost £4,000 has been remanded in custody before his trial after a series of failures to appear in court.

William Moffat, 50, of Alice Hamilton Way, West Linton, has previously denied obtaining board and lodgings at the Lodge at Carfraemill in September and October of 2014 to the value of £3,175 without paying or intending to pay.

He faces a second charge of a similar offence of obtaining food, drink, board and lodgings to the value of £630 without paying or intending to pay at the North Bridge Street Bed and Breakfast in Hawick on November 4, 2016.

It is alleged that he failed to turn up at Selkirk Sheriff Court without a reasonable excuse on December 18, and a warrant was granted for his arrest.

Moffat denied the charge when he appeared from custody at a special Saturday sitting of Selkirk Sheriff Court, but a motion for bail was refused after it emerged the court proceedings date back to August 2015.

Procurator fiscal Graham Fraser, opposing bail, said there had been several failures to appear in court with various excuses including mental health problems.

He said that police in Dumfries and Galloway had advised him that Moffat had threatened to jump off a bridge into the River Nith on December 14, citing financial troubles and saying he wanted to end his life.

Mr Fraser said: “The emergency services were called out, and eventually he agreed to step away from the bridge.

It also emerged that he has been accused of getting board and lodgings at a property in Annan Road, Dumfries, worth £1,200.

He added that Moffat had been admitted to hospital claiming he was suffering from depression and refused to be discharged, threatening that if he was, he would jump into the river.

It was claimed Moffat was essentially getting free board and lodgings, and he was eventually transferred to Huntlyburn Ward at the Borders General Hospital in Melrose, where it was found there was nothing wrong with him, so he was discharged into police custody.

Mr Fraser said: “There is a history of him being a con artist. He was using the Huntlyburn Ward as a free hotel.

“Many people have mental health issues but don’t behave like this.

“As far as the court proceedings have gone, he has been playing the system.

“He should not be allowed his liberty before the trial as it is likely he will not turn up.”

Defence lawyer Sophie Russell said Moffat had been diagnosed as having an emotionally unstable personality disorder and he is now receiving medication for that.

She added there were real concerns that he would not be able to cope with being remanded in custody.

Sheriff Peter Paterson said there had been a series of failures to appear in court, so Moffat was remanded in custody until his trial date of January 30.

An intermediate hearing is due to take place on January 15.