The case against a 50-year-old man accused of molesting two young girls could be thrown out of court because of a legal technicality.
John Millarkie denies using indecent practices towards the 11-year-old and 12-year-old at his home in Hoswick, Sandwick, between 1st July and 21st August last year.
The girls, who can not be named for legal reasons, gave evidence via video link during a trial at Lerwick Sheriff Court last Thursday.
One of the girls said Millarkie had offered the pair work in his garden during an initial visit to his house in the school holidays.
She said Millarkie had touched her legs and felt up her top during a second visit the following day, when the girl attended the house alone.
The other said Millarkie had offered to give her £10 if she allowed him to massage her front and back.
However defence solicitor Mark Lovie said the court had not seen enough identification evidence to prove his client was the man accused of the offences.
No dock identification is required in cases involving vulnerable witnesses, but Mr Lovie said there still had to be some form of identification such as an ID parade.
He said a joint minute – evidence agreed by both Crown and defence – could not be transferred to the two complainers.
Responding, procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said Millarkie had referred to the girls in police interviews.
He said the youngsters had demonstrated in their evidence a detailed knowledge of his house.
“A joint minute is obtained fact and is as good as a police officer standing in the dock and pointing at the accused.”
Sheriff Philip Mann adjourned the case until 6th April to allow Mr Lovie the chance to prepare a full submission, and Mr MacKenzie the opportunity to respond.
Earlier in the day the first witness said she and her friend had visited Millarkie after hearing a summer job might be on offer.
The two girls had sat in his home and discussed with Millarkie the jobs they would be doing in his garden.
However the girl arranged with Millarkie to return by herself the following day.
On that occasion, she said Millarkie had sat on the couch next to her before starting to stroke her leg.
“I kept shuffling to the side of the couch away from Mr Millarkie,” she said, adding she had found the experience “a bit uncomfortable”.
The court heard the girl had returned to the house on a third occasion, where she had stayed for about an hour.
That time, she said: “He just said stuff to me. He said, ‘I know this is wrong and you’re a bairn’, and that’s all he said to me.”
The second witness said she had attended Millarkie’s house by herself, where the accused had offered to massage her front and back on his four-poster bed.
“He said it was my last chance if I wanted one. He said he had got a massage book for either his birthday or Christmas.
“He said I was to take off my top for one. I said ‘I don’t like massages’.”
Asked if Millarkie had tried to persuade her, she said he had offered her £10, which she had refused.
Cross examining, Mr Lovie suggested the girls had been telling lies after falling out with Millarkie over the amount of money he had paid them for their work.
Asked why they had repeatedly returned to the house, the second girl said they had wanted to get the money they had worked for.
He also disputed claims by one of the girls she had seen Millarkie driving past in his car, adding the accused did not hold a licence and could not drive.
The case will resume on 6th April.