DCSIMG

Craig Whyte heckled at Inverness court appearance

Craig Whyte at Inverness Sherrif Court. Picture: Ken Macpherson

Craig Whyte at Inverness Sherrif Court. Picture: Ken Macpherson

  • by ALISTAIR MUNRO
 

Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte faced a barrage of insults as he arrived at court to explain why he failed to turn up as a trial witness.

A warrant was issued for his arrest last month following his non-appearance at court to give evidence against former housekeepers accused of stealing from his Highland castle.

As he turned up at Inverness Sheriff Court there was a small crowd of bystanders who shouted ‘crook’ and ‘scum’.

Inside court room two, disgraced businessman Whyte – dressed in a grey suit – was made to wait by Sheriff Margaret Neilson for other business to be dealt with before hearing his explanation for failing to appear as a witness.

His lawyer Paul Kavanagh said: “There was a genuine belief that he had been countermanded.

“He was a Crown witness but did not attend. I have impressed upon him that he must attend.”

The court was told Whyte’s estranged wife, also a witness, contacted him on the day and discovered he was in France.

Mr Kavanagh said: “He spoke to a representative of the Procurator Fiscal and was told he should have been in court. He is under no illusion that he must attend.

“Unfortunately he could not because he was abroad.

“He wants to give evidence. He will attend. There is an employment tribunal on the back of this.

“It was not a wilful act in any way. He has no previous experience of the judicial system. There is no background suggesting a criminal conviction.

“It was a genuine misunderstanding. He did not intend to cause inconvenience.”

Inconvenience

Sheriff Neilson told him: “There was significant inconvenience. Another sheriff was available and another fiscal was available for the trial to take place.

“It did cause considerable inconvenience. Eleven other witnesses realised they should attend and did attend.”

Mr Kavanagh said new dates were fixed immediately on the day of the previous calling and that his client would appear for the new trial on 12 September.

He asked any consideration of a contempt of court charge be taken once the trial had concluded, and moved for his client to be ordained to appear on that occasion.

However, depute fiscal Heather Swan moved for Whyte to be placed on bail, and Sheriff Neilson granted a bail order.

She added: “I am going to continue consideration on the question of contempt of court to the trial diet of 12 September.”

Whyte, smiling as he left court, refused to comment.

Whyte’s former housekeepers Terence Horan and Jane Hagan deny taking items from Castle Grant, his property near Grantown-on-Spey.

Whyte had been personally served with a witness citation last month after the Crown revealed that their prior difficulties in tracking him down had been resolved.

But by the time 53 year-old Horan and 50 year-old Hagan were called into the dock, there was no sign of Whyte.

Hagan and Horan deny stealing a huge array of items from Castle Grant between June 1 and September 7, 2012 where they worked.

Both are alleged to have stolen items including a quad bike, quantities of coins and Dutch guilders, a silver photograph frame, a hip flask and cups, three sets of cuff links, a fuel card, a telescope and case.

They are also charged with stealing other items including three pens, two lamps, headed notepaper, five chairs and a table, a chest, a compass, two wooden bowls, a photograph album, a trunk, a planter, two jumpers, a bin, a wheel, two heaters, a bag of electrical items, ornaments and a clay trap.

 
 
 

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