‘Sovereign’ woman found guilty of threatening birdwatchers in ‘unusual’ case 

A minor case which escalated to include allegations of false courts, pretend sheriffs and miscarriages of justice has ended without so much as a fine.

Sandra Irvine, 60, was today (Tuesday) found guilty of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner towards two birdwatchers near her Boddam home, following a short trial in which she represented herself.

While previous hearings saw Irvine remanded in custody and her unofficial legal advisor, Stuart Hill, banned from the court, the sentence imposed today was a mere cation.

Sheriff Ian Cruickshank said the cation meant Irvine must pay £500 to the court – but it would be repaid in a year if she is of good behaviour.

The sheriff had previously expressed frustration at Irvine and Hill over their repeated attempts to argue that under “udal law” the court had no jurisdiction as  Shetland was not part of Scotland.

During earlier hearings Irvine refused to comply with bail conditions, argued that the use of her name was a “legal fiction” and attempted to call the sheriff as a witness, along with the procurator fiscal and court clerk.

Meanwhile, Hill was convicted of contempt of court after publishing a “statement of truth” that alleged the court was “fraudulent” and Sheriff Cruickshank had been impersonating a sheriff.

Sentencing the accused today, Sheriff Cruickshank said the case was at the lowest end of the scale and it was “perhaps unfortunate” that Irvine had not accepted the police warning offered on the day of the offence.

He said it had been an “unusual” case – but he would not be adding anything to his previous comments. 

“I will leave it to the people of Shetland themselves to make their own minds up about you,” he said. 

Speaking after the hearing, Irvine said she would appeal the decision, insisting that justice had not been done.

Irvine had asked the sheriff to recuse himself from the proceedings and called for the trial to be postponed as she had been unable to call her witnesses.

As reported yesterday, Irvine tried to call Sheriff Cruickshank, procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie, court clerk Jan Hunter and udal law campaigner Hill as witnesses – but the citations were rescinded following a Crown motion.

Mr MacKenzie yesterday told Sheriff Principal of Grampian, Highland and Islands Derek Pyle the citations were “merely a vexatious exercise and an exercise in frivolity”.

Irvine today claimed the court’s decision meant the trial was not fair.

She again questioned its jurisdiction and said the complaint against her was a “legal fiction”.

Sheriff Cruickshank told Irvine the court had jurisdiction and nothing she could say for “the thousandth time” would change that.

Rejecting Irvine’s call for a postponement, the sheriff proceeded to trial, inviting Irvine to take a seat.

She refused, opting instead to stand throughout the hearing.

Mr MacKenzie called the two complainers as witnesses.

The first said he had driven to Boddam on 28th November to investigate reports of a stranded seal pup on the beach.

Finding no trace of the pup, the witness said he bumped into a friend who was also in the area and they went birdwatching together.

He said Irvine then arrived in a taxi van, blasting her horn, telling them to “fuck off” and “get off my land”.

The witness said Irvine then drove to where his car was parked, at a passing place, and blocked it in.

The other witness said she felt “really threatened” by the shouting.

One of the attending police officers, told the court Irvine had been “confrontational”, claiming that under udal law she could tell them to get off her land.

The constable said Irvine had accepted a police warning but later appealed it and it was rescinded.

Irvine asked the witnesses to identify the person who they said shouted and swore at them but did not challenge their version of events.

She asked the first witness if he could prove the land was in Scotland – but the question was overruled following Mr MacKenzie’s objection.

Irvine presented the police constable with a 2014 “aid memoir” regarding “freemen of the land” and asked her if she was aware of the document. She was not.

Irvine declined to appear as her own witness, saying everything had already been said.

Summing up, Mr MacKenzie sad that despite all that had been said around udal law and court jurisdiction, this was a “simple case” about whether Irvine had behaved in the manner described.

He said the witnesses were “credible and reliable” and Irvine had not presented any evidence to challenge their version of events.

While accepting it was at the lower end of the scale, the fiscal said it was “nevertheless the case that people should not have to contend with that sort of behaviour when they are going about their business”.

“Whatever belief the accused may have about the law in Scotland, udal law and such like, I’m afraid that does not allow her to conduct herself in the manner she conducted herself in that day,” he said. 

The sheriff agreed the witnesses were credible and also acknowledged Irvine had not made any evidence to challenge their version of events, finding her guilty.

When asked whether she had anything to say in mitigation, Irvine said she had been trying to protect her land, which was hers under “allodial” ownership. 


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