A 64-year-old man has walked from court following a jury trial where he was accused of a number of sexual offences after the case against him was found to be not proven.
Basil Edward Beatty had pleaded not guilty to all nine charges between December 2010 and October 2014, which included the alleged assault of two underage girls and another girl.
Today the jury reached a verdict of not proven for all nine charges, which was decided by a majority of the jurors on each count.
The trial got under way at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Monday 5th December, and on Friday morning a new indictment was put before the jurors after the crown decided to seek conviction on nine charges instead of 12.
Mr Beatty had denied using lewd, indecent and libidinous practices towards underage girls and placing his hands under their clothing, touching them on their body and, for one girl, lifting up her clothing and putting milk cartons on her body. These allegations were dropped by the Crown.
He also denied a charge of threatening a girl with violence and threatening her with a gun which was also not pursued by the Crown.
Throughout the trial the court heard evidence from the two girls via video link and from another woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted by Mr Beatty.
Mr Beatty denied all the charges and defence agent Gregor Kelly suggested to the jury there were discrepancies when comparing evidence in court and police interviews.
In his summing up, procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said the case was complex from a legal point of view but argued to jurors from another view “it really is quite simple, because it boils down to a question of credibility”.
He said they needed to be careful about “the microscopic examination of the use of words and language” and said there was “no textbook response to being sexually abused”.
During the trial it emerged one of the girls, when speaking to the police in an interview, nodded or shook her head to questions.
Mr MacKenzie said: “She had never told anybody about what had happened to her, not even her mother, she didn’t want to tell anyone, she wanted to blank it out and completely forget it, she never went to the police. They came to her and she answered the questions they put to her.”
Mr Beatty’s position was that all three girls were lying, Mr MacKenzie suggested to the jury.
But the fiscal questioned why they would lie and what any of them would gain from lying.
Mr Kelly suggested the jury should “chip away” at the discrepancies of the evidence and “see what you’re left with”.
He talked the jury through various differences, including the claim by one girl that Mr Beatty had forced her to perform a sex act on him.
Mr Kelly argued there were three different versions provided in evidence that contradicted each other.
“Why did they [the girls] keep going back if something wrong was happening?,” Mr Kelly asked the jury.
Mr Beatty was candid with police when asked about touching the girl in a later alleged sexual assault, Mr Kelly said. His client’s position was that he did not sexually assault her and he put his arm down the woman’s back.
After the jury’s decision was announced, Sheriff Philip Mann told Mr Beatty he was free to go and thanked the jurors for their help in what he said was a complicated case.