News In Focus
Sheriff’s domestic abuse comments spark storm
Sheriff Kevin Drummond has sparked a row over the role of the sheriff’s court in dealing with domestic abuse cases, after commenting that some were too trivial for the court’s attention. He went on to characterise the Crown Office’s policy of bringing all such cases before a sheriff as a “grave wrong”.
The comments were made following a case in which Marek Maikut was accused of assaulting his partner Katrina Hall – who he has since married – during an argument about pictures found on his mobile phone. Hall subsequently asked for the charges to be dropped.
Sheriff Drummond said: "Domestic assault is a serious offence which deserves to be dealt with seriously.
"But some cases of the most trivial nature, which under normal circumstances would barely justify being brought in a justice of the peace court, are routinely being brought in sheriff courts.
"It is a grave wrong for any court to deal with any person appearing before it exclusively on the basis of a pre-determined policy - that is to prejudge, and that is the root of prejudice."
These words drew swift criticism from several quarters, including Scottish Labour’s community safety spokesman, James Kelly, who underlined the “gravity” of domestic abuse cases and highlighted the additional powers of the sheriff to protect victims of abuse.
The Crown Office also vigorously defended its policy, arguing the weight of the sheriff’s court was necessary to ensure domestic abuse cases were dealt with “sensitively, effectively and in the public interest."