£800 fine for stran­gling wo­man in an Oban pub

The Oban Times - - NEWS - SANDY NEIL sneil@oban­times.co.uk

A BUS driver has been fined £800 for ‘a mo­ment of mad­ness’ in which he stran­gled a wo­man in an Oban pub.

Gavin McKeat­ing, 42, of 7 Kerelaw Road, Steven­ston, pleaded not guilty to as­sault­ing Tracy Gil­mour by seiz­ing her by the throat and push­ing her against a wall at an Oban bar on Jan­uary 5 this year, and pleaded a spe­cial de­fence of self-de­fence.

A bar­man, An­drew Dun­can, told Oban Sher­iff Court on Wed­nes­day July 19 he heard ‘some bang­ing’ out­side in the vestibule and, on open­ing the door, saw a man ‘stran­gling’ a wo­man with both hands.

‘She was re­ally scared,’ Mr Dun­can said. ‘I could see that she was try­ing to push him away. The sec­ond I opened the door he let go and ran away.’

A sec­ond wo­man with ‘red hair’, he re­counted, shouted to the man to come back but he replied: ‘I am not com­ing back or I will get done.’

‘I be­lieve there was an in­ci­dent later be­tween the wo­man with red hair and the wo­man who was be­ing stran­gled,’ Mr Dun­can con­tin­ued. ‘By the time I had phoned the po­lice a fight had kicked off.’

Ms Gil­mour told the court McKeat­ing ‘was act­ing ag­gres­sively. I re­mem­ber the man go­ing out for a cig­a­rette. I said to the girl I would go out to talk to him. I re­mem­ber say­ing I can calm him down.’ She re­called telling him ‘I do not want any trou­ble’, and his re­sponse: ‘I do not give a ****.’

‘I re­mem­ber get­ting rat­tled against the door and then I re­mem­ber him stran­gling me,’ she said.

Ms Gil­mour’s at­ti­tude had changed, McKeat­ing said, when he told her he was with his fi­ancée. ‘I think she got the knock­back and it got nasty,’ he said. ‘She got a bit nasty in her com­ments: I was not a proper Scots­man be­cause I was with a for­eign wo­man [and] she was only with my­self be­cause of my money. I asked her to leave. I de­cided to go out and have a cig­a­rette to get away from her.

‘She went for me, like a cat’s claw into my face. I put my hands up to stop her, but I was in­tox­i­cated and pushed her back. Not grabbed her by the neck – more on the chest to push her away. ’

McKeat­ing’s fi­ancée said in the wit­ness box she saw him out­side with ‘scratch­ings and blood’, and asked him what hap­pened: ‘She at­tacked me,’ he replied.

Procu­ra­tor fis­cal Eoin McGinty said: ‘Rather than stay­ing out­side to help him you went back in­side to at­tack this lady. A minute later you punch her in the face. Why did you not go to the po­lice? Is it not the case you were wor­ried about po­lice in­volve­ment be­cause you were both in­volved in be­ing ag­gres­sive?’ McKeat­ing’s fi­ancée shook her head.

Ms Gil­mour de­nied de­fence agent Kevin McGin­ness’s sug­ges­tion that: ‘ You in­tended to con­tinue your ob­nox­ious and un­pleas­ant be­hav­iour and that is why you went out­side.’

Sher­iff Patrick Hughes said: ‘To a de­gree, all the ev­i­dence has had a self-serv­ing el­e­ment, ex­cept Mr Dun­can’s. I find his ev­i­dence com­pelling. If Mr Dun­can’s ev­i­dence were not in this trial, I would be in rea­son­able doubt.

‘There has been a de­gree of con­fronta­tion and ag­gres­sion from the com­plainer. I ac­cept some kind of in­jury was in­volved but that was through her self­de­fence. I am not with­out sym­pa­thy. It seems like a good night out wasted by drink. It seems to be a mo­ment of mad­ness.’

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