Jury finds pair not proven for attack in Motherwell ‘drug den’

Hamilton Sheriff Court
Hamilton Sheriff Court
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An alleged cocaine dealer came off worse when violence flared in a Motherwell “drug den”.

Covered in blood, Joseph Hands fled from his flat to a pal’s house. He had a head wound and bite marks on his cheeks.

Christopher Hughes (32) and his girlfriend Stacey Paterson (31) both of Glassford Tower, Motherwell, were accused of assault to severe injury and permanent disfigurement.

Hands was alleged to have been battered with a hammer, stabbed and bitten after the pair forced entry to his flat in Iona Street in the early hours of December 6.

But they were cleared on not proven verdicts after a three-day trial at Hamilton Sheriff Court.

Hughes is no stranger to the courts and is currently serving eight months for having a knife.

In 2009 he was jailed for nine years for stabbing four men outside a nightclub in Motherwell.

Jurors in the latest case were told that Paterson went to Hands’s flat at 1.20am to buy £100 worth of cocaine. Hughes was with her.

It was alleged the pair kicked in the door and set upon Hands with weapons. He needed staples in a head wound and also had injuries to his cheek caused by biting.

Detective Sergeant Jim Williamson said Hands appeared “shook up” when he spoke to him in hospital.

CCTV footage played in court showed Hughes and Paterson leaving their flat at 1.20am, arriving in Hands’s street and returning to Glassford Tower half an hour later, with Hughes apparently limping at that stage. There was also footage of them being arrested about 5.45am. By this time they had changed their clothing.

Det Sgt Gary Crossan said he noticed damage to the lock of the door at Hands’s flat. There were bloodstains in the hall and living room, with property strewn across the latter.

Hands said claims that he was a drug dealer were “laughable”.

Hughes admitted biting Hands, but claimed he was acting in self-defence after Hands came at him with a knife. Paterson said she tried to get Hands off her boyfriend.

Ian Scott, defending Hughes, claimed the couple had been “ambushed”.

He told the jury: “This flat is a drug den and they were set upon when they entered.

“A neighbour said she hears the noise of people coming and going at all hours and a police officer finds what appears to be a drugs tick list on the floor.

“Joseph Hands knew Stacey Paterson had money. She was going there to purchase cocaine - £100 was mentioned.

“Possibly he thought she would be alone. It was an ambush and Hands attacked Hughes when he arrived with her.

“The first thing Hughes told the police was that Hands had tried to stab him. CCTV shows the couple were unarmed when they left their flat. The weapons said to have been used belonged in Hands’s flat.

“Hands’s position that he was struck with his own weapons is just not credible.”

Lyndsey Jefferson, defending Paterson, said her client had been to the flat five or six times previously to buy drugs.

She added: “On this occasion Hands was expecting her but no one else. He was caught offguard.”

The jury took just 40 minutes to return not proven verdicts on the charge.