Birnie found guilty of sexual assault at High Court

A former Lerwick man who molested a woman when she was “sparked out” in a diabetic episode has been found guilty of three offences at Edinburgh High Court.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that Ellis Birnie, 27, assaulted the woman when she was “almost comatose” when her blood sugars were high.

He will be sentenced next month.

The victim said she was “very, very deeply asleep” and “completely sparked out” during the attack.

She said she woke at one point “to find his hand in my trousers”.

“I had come to enough to realise stuff was going on, but I was not fully alert, ” the 39-year-old said in pre-recorded evidence played to a jury at Birnie’s trial.

The woman said the incident occurred on October 2018 but told the court that Birnie had previously assaulted her at his home in Sandveien, Lerwick.

She said in September that year Birnie had shown her round at the address, including going into a bedroom.

The woman said she was pinned down and could not get up and Birnie carried out sex acts.

She was asked if he was saying anything and she replied: “Just really gross sexual stuff I didn’t want to hear.”

Birnie had denied a string of charges during his trial but was convicted of three offences today (Wednesday) on majority verdicts by the jury.

He was found guilty of sexually assaulting his first victim on various occasions between 12th September and 3rd December 2018 at the address at Sandveien and other locations in Shetland.

During assaults he seized her breasts and buttocks and carried out penetrative acts, including on one occasion when she was incapable of giving or withholding consent.

Birnie was also found guilty of sexually assaulting a second woman on Shetland between 1st February and 24th August 2020, who he molested when was asleep or intoxicated and incapable of giving consent.

He was also convicted of engaging in abusive behaviour towards the second woman in 2020.

The trial judge, Lord Richardson, deferred sentence on Birnie until next month for the preparation of a background report.

Birnie was remanded in custody and placed on the sex offenders’ register.

If you have been affected by sexual violence, support is available. Contact The Compass Centre 9am-1.30pm Mon-Thurs on 01595 747 174 or email


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