Hawick police officer granted absolute discharge over drunken bust-up at Kelso hotel

An-off duty police officer has been granted an absolute discharge but now faces disciplinary proceedings at work after getting involved in a booze-fuelled bust-up at a charity fancy-dress party.

Hawick police officer Pierce Solley.
Hawick police officer Pierce Solley.

Constable Pierce Solley refused to leave the function despite being asked to do so on several occasions and clashed with the event’s organisers, dressed as characters from the 1994 film Pulp Fiction.

It was claimed that the 23-year-old threatened to punch Janice Darrie, a woman in her 60s dressed as gangster’s wife Mia Wallace, played by Uma Thurman in the Quentin Tarantino-directed movie.

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Mrs Darrie had intervened and asked Solley to leave after he ignored a similar request from her husband Thomas, dressed as John Travolta playing the part of Vincent Vega in the film.

The Cross Keys Hotel in Kelso.

Bar staff told Jedburgh Sheriff Court they heard Solley say the words “punch you in the face” during the ruckus but could not confirm in what context that was meant.

Police were called to the event, titled the Monsters’ Ball, at the Cross Keys Hotel in Kelso, and Solley still refused to leave but was eventually escorted from the premises.

His career is now hanging in the balance after pleading guilty to a charge of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner on the night of October 27 after he’d earlier been at a race meeting at Kelso.

He admitted challenging others to fight and refusing to leave when asked to do so by the event’s organisers and behaving in an aggressive and intimidating manner towards customers and staff.

Defence lawyer Pamela Rodgers claimed the event’s organisers had overreacted, exacerbating the situation and causing Solley to act aggressively.

She said a question asked by Solley – “why do you want to go outside. Do you want to hit me?” – was only a “weak challenge” to fight.

A criminal conviction would affect Solley’s police career and also his role as a youth cricket coach so she asked that he be given an absolute discharge.

Sheriff Peter Paterson granted that request, but Solley, on what are described as modified duties at Hawick police station since the incident, still faces the prospect of disciplinary proceedings at work.

Procurator fiscal Graham Fraser told the court that Solley had been at Kelso Races during the day and had turned up at the fancy-dress ball between 8.30pm and 9pm wearing a suit.

He was allowed in, but event organiser Amy Dorrie, daughter of Janice and Thomas, thought he was a “bit drunk” and that soon had a negative effect on his behaviour at the bar and towards staff.

Mr Fraser said Solley was spotted waving a hip flask at the bar and was asked to hand it over and did so.

Later, though, he pointed at barmaid Deborah Mellor and asked why she had taken it from him.

She told the court she would not have served him alcohol due to his manner but he was given a soft drink.

It was then that Mr and Mrs Darrie approached Solley and asked him to leave, but he refused to do so.

Mr Fraser said witnesses heard Solley say “hit me, hit me” during the commotion, but he insisted he had not threatened to punch anyone in the face.

Solley told the court that he was approached by Mr Darrie and told to go outside but he did not think it would be safe to do so, asking: “What are you going to do to me. Are you going to hit me?”

Solley then claimed Mrs Darrie came up to him and asked if he wanted to punch her in the face.

He said: “I was in sheer disbelief. I do not know why she would want me to punch her in the face.”

Solley admitted that, with hindsight, he should have left the party or gone to another part of the hotel, but he was trying to organise a lift back to his home town of Hawick.

Solley, formerly an account manager for Selkirk’s Spark Energy, has been employed as a police officer since June 2017, stationed in Kelso and Galashiels, but has latterly been based at Hawick.

A spokesperson for the force said: “Police Scotland are aware of the outcome of this case, and a report will be submitted to the deputy chief constable for consideration.”