Legal history has been made with the first virtual sheriff court summary hearing in Scotland.
Liam MacDonald, 33, of Inverness, was found not guilty of being in possession of cannabis resin when detained on January 4 2019 at the virtual Inverness Sheriff Court on Tuesday.
The Crown dropped its case during cross-examination after two police officers who carried out the search gave conflicting evidence via video call about what was discovered and the number of alerts of suspicion they had received.
Sheriff Gary Aitken noted the significance of the trial being heard digitally due to the coronavirus outbreak.
It was also the first time a case had been heard at the city’s Justice Centre, which opened in March.
He said: “It’s important to acknowledge that when your solicitor tended your plea of not guilty at Inverness Sheriff Court on your behalf, that took place at Inverness Castle and the court dates that were fixed we clearly anticipated would be at Inverness Justice Centre, where you and I are sitting at the moment.
“What I don’t think any of us could have anticipated is that the Justice Centre, having opened at the very end of March, a trial at the beginning of June would be the first trial to take place in the court – or indeed that it would be taking place by technological means as we are using today.
“The world has moved on in ways that none of us could have expected.”
He thanked all of those who helped to make the virtual courtroom possible after the trial had concluded.
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