Witness returns to court in tears after night in the cells 

A night in the cells and a threat of criminal proceedings produced a marked change in the demeanour of two trial witnesses.

Charlotte Close, 24, and Tai McGill, 22, had been locked up and told they could be held in contempt of court due to their attitude in the witness stand.

Close, of Clairmont Place, Lerwick, had been told not to yawn when facing questions at Thursday’s hearing and was warned repeatedly to tell the truth.

Returning to Lerwick Sheriff Court today (Friday) after a night in the cells a tearful Close was much more contrite.

“I’m sincerely sorry and apologise for disrespecting everyone,” she said.

Close and McGill had both been summoned as witnessed in the trial of Haseeb Choudhary, who the court heard was Close’s partner.

Choudhary, 29, was accused of careless driving and driving without insurance.

It related to an incident when Close’s red Volkswagen Polo ended up on its roof in Aith on 14th July last year.

Although both told police after the incident that Choudhary had been driving, they claimed in court it had been Close.

As a result, the trial collapsed and Sheriff Ian Cruickshank upheld the defence motion that there was “no case to answer” for Choudhary.

Choudhary was fined £900 plus a £40 victim surcharge and had six penalty points added to his licence for three other admitted charges – perverting the course of justice, failing to give information and struggling with police.

He walked free while Sheriff Cruickshank told the witnesses to reflect on their actions during a night in the cells.

Returning to court this morning, McGill was asked if he had anything to say about his actions.

“Sorry, my attitude was not on,” McGill said.

Sheriff Cruickshank told McGill prevarication, which is a form of contempt of court, had been described as the “obstinate concealment of truth”.

The sheriff said he felt it was “more probable than not” that what McGill had not been telling the truth in court yesterday – and that the man standing trial had been the man driving the vehicle.

“The upshot is that based on what you told police originally, either an innocent man had to face a trial that he shouldn’t have or a man responsible for an offence avoided a potential conviction,” the sheriff added.

“So either way, you and others are responsible for that and that’s a matter for you and your own conscience.”

Sheriff Cruickshank decided not to make a finding of contempt, however.

“Given your demeanour today, which is very different than yesterday and taking account that you have spent a night in custody, I’m going to stop short of a finding of contempt and bring the matter to an end,” he said.

The sheriff gave a similar speech to Close when it was her time in the dock.

Again he took account of her apology and time spent in the cells to stop short of a finding of contempt.

However, Sheriff Cruickshank told Close she must return to court on 20th March to answer another charge of threatening or abusive behaviour.

Close is alleged to have approached another witness in court yesterday, adopted an “aggressive demeanor” and shouted and uttered threats.

Close was released on bail with the special condition not to approach or contact the complainer or go near to her address.


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