Drug driving trial collapses after fiscal fails to ask witness to identify accused

A drug driving trial collapsed after the fiscal failed to ask a witness to identify the accused in court.

Shanna Chapman had been accused of driving while under the influence of cocaine in the early hours of Christmas Day 2021.

The 23-year-old, of Gilbertson Road, Lerwick, denied the charges.

And she was acquitted following a short trial at Lerwick Sheriff Court today (Thursday).

Sheriff Ian Cruickshank said that, as the only Crown witness had not identified Chapman in court, there had been “no case to answer”.

The court heard Chapman had been taken to hospital.

It happened after a Christmas Eve lock-in at Fjara where Chapman worked as a manager.

Blood tests found Chapman was more than twice the legal limit for cocaine.

And she was 16-times over the legal limit for benzoylecgonine, which is a metabolite of cocaine.

The defence did not dispute the drug readings but claimed she had not been driving.

One witness, whose statement was included in a joint minute, claimed Chapman had been driving.

The court also heard that Chapman was the registered owner of the vehicle.

But when asked by police following the accident whether she had been driving, the accused said she could not remember anything before the ambulance arrived.

Sheriff Cruickshank suggested that was a “neutral” response that did not identify her as being the driver.

The Crown called as a witness a 20-year-old apprentice mechanic who had also been in the car that night.

But although he had told police that he thought Chapman had been driving, he was unable to remember any details when questioned in court.

He said he had been drunk at the time.

The witness also said he might have been speculating when he said Chapman was driving as it was her car.

Sheriff Cruickshank said the witness’s evidence had been “murky”.

The sheriff also noted that procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie had not asked the witness to identify Chapman in court.

Mr MacKenzie said he still thought there was sufficient evidence to identify Chapman – the other witness’s statement, the fact she was the registered owner, and the absence of any denial that she had been driving when asked by police.

Sheriff Cruickshank found the evidence was insufficient, however, and upheld the submission by defence agent Gregor Kelly of no case to answer.

Chapman admitted a separate charge of allowing alcohol to be consumed in Fjara outwith the licensed hours.

Mr MacKenzie said Chapman had been out with friends after closing and came back to Fjara for more drinks.

“There was effectively a lock-in,” he said.

Mr Kelly said Chapman accepted she should not have done it and put it down to “immaturity”.

He said she had kept her job at Fjara although she had been on a “shoogly peg” for a while.

He said she had adopted more “temperate habits” since the incident.

Sheriff Cruickshank fined her £225 plus a victim surcharge.


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