Sheriff brands duo ‘slime’

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A Sheriff didn’t mince his words when he branded two men “slime” at Stranraer Sheriff Court after they refused to say who had been driving after both had been drinking.

Andrew Sproat, 46, of Baldoon Mains Farm, Wigtown, and William Maxwell, 45, of Drumrae Farm, Whithorn, were both fined £2400 after admitting trying to pervert the course of justice on June 12 when telling police officers that Debbie Gunby, Sproat’s partner, had driven a Land Rover that had travelled from Bladnoch to Baldoon Mains in the early hours that morning to avoid the true identification of the driver who was being investigated by the police for drink-driving.

Procurator fiscal depute Lyndsay Hunter gave details of what happened. Both men, she said, were involved in agriculture and were linked socially and through business matters. On the night of June 11, both had been in the Bladnoch Inn and both were “seen to have had a drink”. At around 1am, the police noticed that the only vehicle left in the car park across the road from the pub was a Land Rover and that the two accused were in the vicinity of the vehicle. Shortly afterwards, the police returned to find the vehicle had been moved. The police drove immediately to Baldoon Mains and found the Land Rover parked there. They deduced that whoever had been driving the vehicle had just gone into the house. The police knocked on the door and Maxwell answered. The officers noted that he was under the influence of alcohol. Sproat, the householder, then came to the door and the police gained access “eventually”, although the fiscal told the court there had been “quite a performance” before they got inside. By his demeanour, the police ascertained that Sproat had also been drinking.

Sproat told the police that his partner, Debbie Gunby, had been the driver of the Land Rover and Maxwell agreed with this version of events. Ms Gunby initially confirmed she had been the driver but, when questioned, it was clear something was wrong, said the fiscal. Ms Gunby quickly admitted she had actually been in bed and that Sproat had told her to say she had been the driver.

Both men were detained by the police but as neither has admitted they were driving that night the police do not know who was the actual driver to this day, the fiscal commented.

Agent Michael Kilkerr said Sproat “panicked” when police arrived at his house and decided to involve his partner in what was a “short-lived” deception. Maxwell’s agent, Ian Milligan said his client agreed to go along with the ruse. The lawyer said the incident happened when Maxwell was feeling “tired and light-headed after a long day”.

Sheriff Kenneth Robb said to both: “Most people who drink and drive and are stopped by the police and found guilty accept they have broken the law and don’t come up with stories. One of you is standing there thinking, ‘I am so clever’.

“You are just slime to behave the way you did. The nature of the offence was that you exposed someone else to the risk of prosecution. What you have done deserves something more than a fine but as you are seen to be of good character in the eyes of the general public, I have no option but to fine you.”