AN MSP has criticised the heavy-handed response to a complaint made against a pensioner who was locked in a cell overnight and hauled in front of a court after being overheard referring to his neighbours as “tinks” in his back garden.
Ian MacGregor, 71, who has no criminal record, was reported to police two days after he was heard saying “that’s the tinks got the shed up”. He was charged with a hate crime by police and appeared before a judge at Perth Sheriff Court on his 71st birthday.
He was reported to authorities by his neighbours Kelly Byrne and partner Sandy MacDonald - both of whom have criminal convictions - who said they were offended by the comment and believed it was aimed at them.
Murdo Fraser, MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife, said the conviction was disproportionate.
He said: “You have to ask the question whether the police response was proportionate in all the circumstances of the case.
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“To take the elderly gentleman out of his own home and make him spend a night in police cells does not appear to be in line with the nature of the offence he was accused of committing.”
MacGregor, who is retired, admitted making the comments on December 8 in court, where he was admonished by Sheriff Christopher Shead.
Solicitor Pauline Cullerton, defending, said that MacGregor had made the comment to himself as he made his way to the back door of his house.
“It wasn’t said directly at them,” she added.
Mr MacGregor, whose wife Barbara described the charge as a “piece of nonsense,” said: “The whole thing has just been a shock. I have never been in trouble in my life before. It is ridiculous that I got kept in a cell.”
Mrs MacGregor, 67, said: “We were just having a quiet drink in the house when the police came in. The officers were nice and told us that they wouldn’t have done anything about it five or six years ago.”
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