James Ainsworth is said to have been set upon during a break in his trial at the High Court in Glasgow on Wednesday afternoon.
The 61-year-old received CPR in the street as paramedics battled to save his life following the incident which happened around 1pm. Ainsworth was taken to the city’s Southern General Hospital where he remains in a critical condition.
A suspect is now in custody and a judge has ordered a full inquiry into the incident and how it occurred.
Ainsworth, of Largs, Ayrshire, was on trial accused of a string of offences against a number of individuals dating back to the 1960s.
The case began on Monday and testimony was heard from several witnesses. The attack is said to have taken place during the lunchtime adjournment on Wednesday.
Police initially tended to Ainsworth, who was lying on the ground just yards from the front door of the high court.
A man – thought to be the attacker – was escorted back into the building by two officers. An ambulance soon arrived, while the area, close to Glasgow Green, was taped off.
One eye-witness said: “Almost every court police officer was on the scene when it became apparent what was happening.
“The man on the pavement was not moving and was clearly in a very bad way. There were also items scattered nearby.
“Paramedics treated him on the street for around 30 minutes including giving him CPR. Another man – who could have been a witness to it all – was also doing what he could to help. CID officers were also soon on the scene. It is just is not something you expect to see outside a court building in broad daylight.”
It is not thought any weapon was used. Blood could still be seen yesterday at the area where the incident happened.
Reporting of the incident had been banned for 24 hours while a decision was made what to do with the case against Ainsworth.
Prosecutor Kath Harper yesterday moved to halt the trial, stating it “seemed unlikely” that Ainsworth would be fit to attend court “in the near future at all”.
Miss Harper also said: “Mr Ainsworth is in intensive care at the Southern General. His injuries are life threatening and he remains unconscious. He was put into a medically induced coma. Sedation was lifted and doctors are awaiting a reaction.
“Medical staff are unable to give any prediction for recovery.”
The jury was discharged after Judge Lady Scott said Ainsworth had to be taken to hospital for an “emergency admission”.
She added: “This may come as a shock and I hope you do not find it too distressing.”
Prosecutors can re-raise proceedings against Ainsworth should he be fit to return to the dock in the future.
Prior to jurors returning, Lady Scott said the events were a “matter of concern for the court”. She earlier stated “security issues might arise” after what took place.
She told the court: “I will want to see a full inquiry and a report into what is happening.”
Lady Scott said the matter has also been referred to the Lord Justice General.
Police Scotland confirmed a 31-year-old man is in custody and is due to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court today.