‘Scuppered again’ – Trial adjourned for fourth time after solicitor’s plane turns back due to weather

Weather-related travel disruption yesterday derailed a court trial for the fourth time – prompting a stern message from the sheriff.

Dan Inkster, of Lyndhurst Place, Lerwick, had been due to face trial regarding an incident at the Royal British Legion in October 2022.

The 37-year-old denies six charges including assault and threatening behaviour.

But the trial was unable to proceed as his defence agent Chris Maitland failed to attend court due to travel disruption.

The court heard Mr Maitland’s Loganair flight had turned around at Kirkwall.

With the same problems having intervened twice previously, and once due to industrial action, Sheriff Ian Cruickshank said he was “rather concerned”.

Sheriff Cruickshank said it was “no reflection” on the accused – but did question why Mr Maitland had not made different travel plans.

“Why would anybody leave travel to Shetland until the day of it?” he said.

The sheriff said the trial date had been “scuppered by the weather yet again”.

A new trial date was set for 9th May – and Sheriff Cruickshank said he would be asking Mr Maitland about his travel plans in advance.

“It might be the beginning of May but that doesn’t mean the weather is going to be clement up here,” he said.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie was also unimpressed with the repeated delays.

He said the court was “effectively over a barrel”.

While he could not “in all good conscience” oppose the defence motion to adjourn, he said the reasons for the delays had been “in some respect foreseeable”.

“It’s not a huge ask to look at the weather forecast a couple of days before,” he said.

Mr MacKenzie suggested the defence agent could have taken the ferry instead – although he acknowledged the issues with NorthLink meant that would not have been available on this occasion.

Mr Maitland was also due to represent Zara Williams – but her trial also had to be postponed.

The 30-year-old from Lerwick denies assault and behaving in a threatening or abusive manner.


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