Man walks free from court af­ter five-day as­sault trial

The Oban Times - - News - COURT RE­PORTER fort@oban­times.co.uk

A MAN has been ac­quit­ted on charges of threat­en­ing be­hav­iour and as­sault to­wards his then girl­friend af­ter a five- day trial and hours of jury de­lib­er­a­tion at Fort Wil­liam Sheriff Court.

The jury was in­structed by the sheriff to re­turn an unan­i­mous ver­dict of not guilty for the charge of threat­en­ing be­hav­iour, and they re­turned a ma­jor­ity ver­dict of not proven for the as­sault charge.

Jeffrey Kell, from Canada, had been charged with as­sault­ing his then girl­friend and chok­ing her to the point of her los­ing con­scious­ness at a ho­tel in Fort Wil­liam on May 20, 2016.

The com­plainant claimed he had ‘snapped’ and started at­tack­ing her dur­ing an ar­gu­ment. She told the court they had started ‘ bick­er­ing’ af­ter hav­ing a few drinks and en­gag­ing in sex­ual ac­tiv­ity.

She told the court the ar­gu­ment be­came phys­i­cal and he jumped out the win­dow onto a roof be­low be­fore re­turn­ing to the room where fur­ther vi­o­lence en­sued and it was at this point she be­came un­con­scious. Kell, how­ever, said he only acted ag­gres­sively to de­fend him­self against her at­tacks. He also told the court he choked her twice on her re­quest as part of sex­ual ac­tiv­ity, which she de­nied, and twice more to de­fend him­self against her chok­ing him. He de­nied she lost con­scious­ness at any point.

Kell also said the com­plainant pushed him out of the win­dow. He said he wouldn’t jump as he is still re­cov­er­ing from se­ri­ous in­juries af­ter be­ing in a road ac­ci­dent in 2008.

The com­plainant ad­mit­ted to the court she had re­tracted her orig­i­nal state­ment and ac­cu­sa­tions, through an af­fi­davit, which she then told the court was a false ac­count of events, mean­ing she had lied un­der oath, as she had it au­tho­rised by a lawyer in Canada.

In his clos­ing speech, de­fence solic­i­tor Gerry Sweeney asked the jury if they could trust such a liar, while procu­ra­tor fis­cal de­pute David Mor­ton closed by point­ing out that af­ter com­ing out the win­dow, Kell had an op­por­tu­nity to es­cape which he didn’t take, which he said means it can­not be classed as self- de- fence, as for that there must be no rea­son­able way of es­cape.

Over the course of the trial, the court also heard ev­i­dence from the night porter at the ho­tel, two other guests who were stay­ing in the ho­tel at the time of the in­ci­dent, and po­lice of­fi­cers in­volved in the case.

They also saw med­i­cal ev­i­dence and pho­to­graphs of the scene and a record­ing of Kell be­ing charged, orig­i­nally with at­tempted mur­der.

None of this was enough to sat­isfy the jury that Kell was guilty and he is now free to re­turn to Canada.

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