A POLICE officer said to have been badly hurt and who “feared for her life” in the incident that led to the death of a man in police custody is “too unwell to stand trial” on data protection charges, a court heard today.
Nicole Short was due to appear for trial at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court next month accused of illegally accessing information on the police computer system.
Quite simply, she is currently not fit for trial due to a complicated medical state following on from an incident in Kirkcaldy.”Ross Cameron
PC Short was involved in the struggle that led to the death of father-of-two Sheku Bayoh in Kirkcaldy’s Hayfield Road on May 3.
Police Federation bosses say she suffered “significant” injuries during the incident that led to the 31-year-old’s death.
A pre-trial hearing was due to be held next week in the officer’s unrelated case, in which she faces three data protection charges.
However, in a last-minute switch, lawyers acting on her behalf had the case “accelerated” to today with the agreement of prosecutors.
Ross Cameron of PBW Law, defending, told Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court only that PC Short had been involved in an “incident in Kirkcaldy” that had led to a “complicated medical state”.
He said: “She maintains her plea of not guilty and her attendance is excused.
“I have a motion to discharge the trial date for August 19.
“This will not be opposed by the Crown.
“Quite simply, she is currently not fit for trial due to a complicated medical state following on from an incident in Kirkcaldy.
“She is seeking assistance from various medical professionals.
“She is due to meet a clinical psychologist next week for him to complete a report.
“That is to be discussed with the Crown for future consideration.”
The move to postpone the trial was not opposed by the Crown.
Short, 29, of Glenrothes, Fife, pleaded not guilty on summary complaint to three charges under the Data Protection Act.
She is accused of accessing confidential information on the Police Scotland computer system in October 2012.
PC Nicole Short is accused of obtaining personal data relating to two men from Fife Constabulary’s Crimefile system and the Scottish Intelligence Database for non-policing purposes in a separate incident.
Sheriff Alistair Thornton said: “In all the circumstances I will grant the motion to discharge the intermediate diet and trial diet and ask for new dates to be set.”
PC Short will now stand trial on December 21, but has been excused from attending a pre-trial hearing earlier that month.
In a statement released after Sheku Bayoh’s death, Professor Peter Watson, the Police Federation’s legal advisor said: “The officer injured remains off work, has had several hospital visits and is now in rehabilitation.
“An examination by a leading consultant confirms her injuries were significant. The injuries have been documented and photographed.”
Mr Bayoh, 31, collapsed and died after being restrained by several officers who were following up reports of a suspect wielding a knife.
The father-of-two’s family - who say they received differing stories on how he died following the incident - and his partner Colette have been campaigning for answers.
The case is currently being investigated by police watchdog, the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC), however calls have been made for a review of its powers in light of Mr Bayoh’s case.