Weekend court roll – a killer driver and the million pound council embezzler

Our reporters have been sitting in courtrooms across the north and north-east this week and covered a wide variety of cases.

Paedophile caught with 10,000 indecent images claims he has ‘no attraction to children’

An Aberdeen sex offender found with more than two days’ worth of child abuse video has been warned he has narrowly avoided going to jail.

Michal Lauryn appeared in the dock at Aberdeen Sheriff Court where he admitted possessing more than 10,000 indecent images of children and hours of video – some of which featured “sadistic” content.

Michal Lauryn admitted possessing days’ worth of child abuse material at Aberdeen Sheriff Court. Image: DC Thomson.

The 26-year-old was snared when police raided his home and seized his devices, where they found a large amount of indecent material.

It was stated that some of the children found within the pictures and video were as young as three years old.

Nurse who assaulted Highland care home residents spared jail

A nurse who assaulted vulnerable residents at two Highland care homes has been spared jail at Inverness Sheriff Court.

John Andrew Charters, known as Andrew, slapped a female patient’s bare bottom and pulled a 78-year-old man from his bed against his will.

John Andrew Charters outside Inverness Sheriff Court.

Charters, 61, had denied the assault charges when he stood trial at Inverness Sheriff Court, but was found guilty on both counts.

During the trial, the court heard how Charters had targeted his female victim at the Grandview care home in Grantown on Spey on February 1 2014 as he administered a suppository.

Paedophile sent undercover cop posing as boy ‘extremely disturbing’ messages

Social workers recommended just 12 months of supervision for a dangerous paedophile who sent “extremely disturbing” messages to what he thought was a 12-year-old boy.

Darren Watt – who also had indecent images of children as young as 8 on his phone – was then allowed to hide inside social work offices for over an hour before being snuck out of a side door with his face masked.

Darren Watt leaving social work offices at Aberdeen Sheriff Court. Image: Danny McKay/DC Thomson

Watt’s own solicitor admitted the recommendation of the social workers was not realistic and sheriff slammed the paedophile’s messages to an undercover cop posing as a child as “extremely disturbing”.

The 44-year-old, who also distributed child sexual abuse material to others online, tried to evade having his photo taken, remaining in court for more than two hours after his case had called.

Man in dock on domestic abuse charge after ‘play boxing’ with partner goes ‘over the top’

An Aberdeen couple’s “play boxing” got out of hand and turned into a vicious assault, with worried neighbours hearing screams and contacting the police.

Lee Fairbairn donned a pair of boxing gloves and set about his partner at their address on Jasmine Terrace in Aberdeen.

Lee Fairbairn. Image: DC Thomson

But what started off as “play boxing” quickly got out of hand, the court was told, and the frightened woman’s cries were overheard by neighbours.

When officers arrived at the scene they found the 37-year-old sitting on top of the woman, who was left with facial injuries and swelling.

Man who crashed into Tain building was three-times the limit

A driver who crashed into the wall of a Tain building was three times the drink-drive limit.

Residents near the junction of Hill Street in the town were alerted to the collision in the early hours of May 12.

Outside they found Stewart Oliver-McCormick “shouting and swearing at himself” seemingly “upset” and “under the influence”.

When police arrived the driver failed a breath test.

Firm fined £430,000 after worker crushed at Aberdeen construction site

A crane hire firm has been fined more than £400,000 after a worker was crushed at a housing development in Aberdeen.

Dominik Mielniczek suffered life-changing injuries when a “grossly overloaded” timber safety deck collapsed on top of him at the Cove building site.

The aftermath of the construction site collapse in Cove. Image: The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service

Inverness-based Global Port Services – which is part of Global Energy Group – pleaded guilty at Aberdeen Sheriff Court to a charge of failing to ensure that a lifting operation was carried out in a safe manner.

The incident – which occurred at a Stewart Milne housing development in the Charleston area of Cove – caused Mr Mielniczek numerous bone fractures and nerve damage.

Remorseless Highland rapist who brutalised women jailed for 10 years

A violent rapist who carried out a campaign of abuse and assault against two women was jailed for 10 years today.

Lewis Forbes subjected his victims to repeated brutality at addresses in the Highlands during which he throttled both women, one of whom was the victim of a life-threatening attack.

A judge told Forbes, 34, at the High Court in Edinburgh: “You have been convicted of an appalling catalogue of sexual, physical and psychological abuse against two women.”

Judge Michael O’Grady KC said the rapist had controlled his victims through a regime of fear and humiliation.

‘I’ll slit your throat’: Fare dodger’s vile threat to Aberdeen taxi driver

A fare-dodging racist threatened to slit an Aberdeen taxi driver’s throat after getting his cab home from the pub.

Robert Hodgins initially claimed he needed to nip inside to get money to pay the fare, but reacted angrily when the taxi driver buzzed at his door because he didn’t return.

The yob branded the driver a P*** and made chilling threats before going back inside and returning with two kitchen knives.

And in a separate incident, the 23-year-old swapped racist abuse for homophobic abuse, branding a reveller on Union Street a p***, tackling him to the ground and raining punches on him.

Highland paedophile used coded message to trade sick child abuse material

A man caught with hundreds of sick videos of children used a coded phrase to trade the vile content with other paedophiles, a court has heard.

Mitchel Steven had more than 400 sick videos of children on his mobile phone when it was seized by police.

Mitchel Steven pled guilty at Inverness Sheriff Court. Image DC Thomson

Investigators also found exchanges on the Telegram messaging app where Steven used a recognised phrase to initiate trades of child abuse material.

Steven, 21, appeared at Inverness Sheriff Court to admit possessing and distributing indecent images of children.

Yob who spat at Aberdeen Asda security guard jailed to ‘protect’ shop workers

A yob who spat at an Aberdeen Asda security guard who saw him loading his backpack with vodka has been jailed to “protect” shop workers.

Steven Wilson, known as McCallum, was caught red-handed by a security guard at Asda’s Beach Boulevard Retail Park store stuffing six bottles of spirits in his bag.

Steven Wilson known as McCallum. Image: Facebook

But when challenged by staff, the 37-year-old became aggressive, raising one bottle above his head and then spitting towards the man.

Sheriff Graham Buchanan slammed Wilson’s vile behaviour and, ordering he be locked up, warned shop workers are “entitled to some protection from the courts”.

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Danger driver admits causing death of beloved Turriff grandad in tragic crash

A driver has admitted causing the death of a much-loved Turriff grandad in a terrifying three-vehicle crash in Aberdeenshire.

The collision, on the A947 Turriff to Newmachar road, tragically resulted in the death of joiner Anthony Duncan, 62, who had been driving a van on the route on December 11 2020.

Anthony Duncan died at the scene of the crash on the A947, near Hattoncrook in December 2020. Image: Police Scotland / DC Thomson

Kyle Reid, the accused, had overtaken Mr Duncan’s van before losing control and crashing into an HGV.

That collision caused “catastrophic damage” to the lorry’s steering and braking and it drifting into the opposing carriageway where it struck Mr Duncan’s van head-on.

RAF man’s unprovoked attack on woman at Elgin taxi rank

An RAF serviceman has been ordered to pay compensation to a woman after head admitted swinging punches at a woman as she waited at an Elgin taxi rank.

Elliot Higginbottom, 20, appeared at Elgin Sheriff Court and pled guilty to assaulting the woman, who was a stranger to him, but could not say what had triggered his violent behaviour.

The assault took place at a taxi rank on Elgin’s High StreetImage: Google Street

The court heard how Higginbottom tried to swing punches at a woman as she waited for a taxi on Elgin’s High Street in November last year.

Higginbottom, who is stationed at RAF Lossiemouth, pled guilty to the assault and to a further fight with two nightclub bouncers, who stepped in to help the woman.

Sadistic thug stabbed woman during 21-hour hostage ordeal

A sadistic thug warned a terrified woman there would be “a massacre” during a 21-hour hostage ordeal in Aberdeen.

Leslie Jackson, 38, left his victim with more than 50 injuries, stating at one stage: “I will gut you like a fish”.

The woman only escaped his violent clutches when she jumped out a window and sprinted onto the street in just a top and her underwear.

Jackson – a serial criminal with 37 previous convictions – admitted assaulting her to her severe injury, permanent disfigurement and to the danger of life at a house in Aberdeen on July 30 and 31 2022.

Two women targeted by Forres man in ‘absolutely terrifying’ random incidents

A Forres man has been handed unpaid work after subjecting two random women to terrifying ordeals less than an hour apart.

Aaron Byrne, 29, hurled abuse and lunged at one victim before punching a hole in the window of a pensioner while shouting: “Open up, I’m coming to get you!”

Aaron Byrne appeared at Elgin Sheriff Court. Image: Facebook

The first offender’s bizarre behaviour – which was branded “extraordinary and absolutely terrifying” by Sheriff David Harvie – came about after a night of drinking and he has no memory of the offences.

Fiscal Shay Treanor told Elgin Sheriff Court that the first woman was cycling near Sanquhar Loch in Forres at around 8.45am on the morning of September 10 2022.

Dangerous driver who hadn’t driven for 15 years banned after causing head-on collision

A man who hadn’t driven a car for almost 15 years has been disqualified after he caused a head-on collision that badly injured another motorist.

Richard Hobson appeared in the dock at Aberdeen Sheriff Court where he admitted crashing into the woman’s Audi while attempting a difficult overtaking manoeuvre on the A96 between Inverurie and Huntly.

Richard Hobson admitted a charge of driving dangerously while travelling on the A96 heading to Inverness. Image: LinkedIN/DC Thomson.

The 34-year-old veered into the opposing lane while trying to overtake a heavy goods van and ploughed into the car of a woman travelling in the opposite direction.

It was stated that Hobson – who has lost his job because of this incident – had taken a test drive the previous day as he was nervous about driving.

Drink-driver fined £640 after moving car to avoid £15 parking charge

A drink-driver who agreed to move her boyfriend’s car to avoid a £15 parking charge has been fined £640 instead.

Patricia McLaren had been drinking with her partner, who was staying at Leonardo Hotel near the airport ahead of going offshore.

But when he realised he would be charged £15 for parking there, he asked McLaren to help – and she foolishly agreed.

The 36-year-old drew attention to herself as she struggled to navigate an exit barrier at the car park and ended up failing a breath test and being arrested.

Man in dock accused of serious assault in Aberdeen pub’s toilets

A man has appeared in court over an alleged serious assault in the toilets of an Aberdeen city centre pub at the weekend.

Police were called to Coopers Bar on John Street on Sunday afternoon in relation to the incident.

Officers dealt with the incident at the pub where one man was treated for his injuries.

Now, Liam Smith has appeared in private at Aberdeen Sheriff Court in connection with the incident.

Would-be Inverness carjacker who claimed to have gun near toy store spared jail

A would-be carjacker who claimed to have a firearm near a city centre toy store has been spared jail at Inverness Sheriff Court.

Ellis Williams, 21, called 999 and said he had a shotgun near Smyths Toys in Inverness and was planning to shoot himself.

But when police traced Williams he was attempting to force a couple from their vehicle with a screwdriver.

Williams appeared via videolink from custody for sentencing having previously admitted charges of assault with intent to rob and possession of an offensive weapon.

Aberdeen football hooligan handed UK match ban after clash with Rangers supporters

An Aberdeen fan has been handed a UK-wide football ban after he took part in a disturbance before a Rangers match.

Alexander-Bruce Craigon, 18, appeared in the dock at Aberdeen Sheriff Court where he admitted conducting himself in a disorderly manner by donning a face covering and inciting Rangers fans to fight.

Alexander-Bruce Craigon admitted conducting himself in a disorderly manner. Image: Facebook/DC Thomson.

Fiscal depute Rebecca Thompson told the court that the incident happened on April 23 last year, just before the Dons were due to play their arch-rivals.

She described a “longstanding rivalry” between the two clubs and stated that the fixture was also set to be broadcast live on Sky Sports.

‘Dress that Broke the Internet’ husband jailed for horrific abuse of wife

A man who went viral after a dress bought for his wedding “broke the internet” was today jailed for the horrific domestic abuse of his wife.

Keir Johnston turned on terrified Grace Johnston – at one stage threatening: “Somebody is going to die”.

Keir Johnston was jailed for assaulting his wife. Left: the dress that ‘broke the internet’.

The 39-year-old pinned Grace to the ground, choked her before also brandishing a knife.

She desperately sent messages to friends begging for help as she knew it would take police too long to get to their home on the Isle of Colonsay in the Inner Hebrides.

Dyce dog spared death sentence following Covid party attack on police

A dog which bit two police officers who were breaking up an illegal Covid house party in Dyce has been spared a death sentence.

Bella, a Staffordshire bull terrier owned by Kevin McDonald, was under threat of destruction following the incident on April 3 2021.

McDonald, 42, appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court to be sentenced for having a dog dangerously out of control.

The court previously heard Bella had attacked and sunk her teeth into two officers responding to a reported gathering at the height of the coronavirus lockdown on Dyce’s Sluie Drive.

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Aberdeen Mini driver led police on high-speed chase with child in car

A man led police on a dangerous high-speed chase in a Mini with an unsecured child in the vehicle.

Andrew Duncan, who was disqualified from driving at the time, sped off when he noticed a police car following him.

Andrew Duncan was driving a black Mini Cooper during the incident. Image: Facebook / Shutterstock

The 32-year-old raced through busy residential streets in Aberdeen, narrowly avoiding a collision and even tackling a roundabout in the wrong direction.

Duncan’s driving was described as “extremely dangerous”, to the extent that officers were forced to call off the chase over fears for public safety.

Man assaulted partner because she kicked his dog

A man punched his partner in the face because she kicked his dog, a court has heard.

Jason Harrison, 51, appeared for sentencing at Inverness Sheriff Court having been previously convicted of committing the assault at an address in Forres on January 31 2022.

The charges detailed how he repeatedly punched the woman on the head to her injury.

He also had a knife in his possession when traced by police after leaving the property with the dog.

Aberdeen man admits sending unsolicited sexual messages to female

An Aberdeen man has been placed on the sex offenders register after sending unwanted sexual messages to a female on his contact list.

Robert Grassick, 55, appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court pleading guilty to the charge of sexual communications.

Robert Grassick.

The court heard that the female had messaged Grassick about another matter, but his side of the conversation quickly took a sexual turn during the evening of December 8 last year.

His victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, tried to turn the conversation back to the original topic, but Grassick persisted.

Aberdeen City Council worker embezzled more than £1 million from local authority

An Aberdeen City Council employee today pleaded guilty to embezzling more than £1 million from the cash-strapped local authority.

Michael Paterson, 59, exploited his position as a Council Tax and Recovery Team Leader to pocket a total of £1,087,444.47 over the course of 17 years.

Aberdeen City Council embezzler Michael Paterson Picture shows; Michael Paterson. N/a. Supplied by Facebook Date; Unknown

The High Court in Edinburgh heard how Paterson spent his ill-gotten gains on Apple goods, foreign holidays and eating out.

Judge David Young KC heard how Paterson started his criminal activity in November 2006 and continued scamming the local authority until September 2023.

Cocaine dealer with learning difficulties was being exploited by criminal gangs

A man with learning difficulties who was discovered in an Aberdeen flat with Class A drugs was being exploited by a criminal gang, a court has heard.

Renaldo Dunkley, 21, appeared in the dock at Aberdeen Sheriff Court where he admitted being concerned in the supply of nearly £1,800 worth of cocaine from a flat near the Mounthooly area of the city.

More than £500 in cash and various mobile phones were also discovered by police during the raid.

Dunkley’s solicitor told the court that his client had been targeted by criminal gangs in England due to his learning difficulties and had subsequently had a “massive wakeup call”.

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