Guilty plea ends jury trial

A JURY trial was abruptly ended on Monday after the accused plead guilty to an ammended charge of assault halfway through.

Tracey Drysdale (21) of John Simpson Drive was accused of assaulting palm reader Anne Madden (41) by pulling her hair and striking her on the head, causing her to fall to the ground to her severe injury at North Strand Street last November.

Giving evidence in court on Monday, Anne Madden, who had been on a night out alone, claimed that Miss Drysdale had been staring at her in The Waterline pub, Stranraer so she left to avoid trouble and "out of respect for The Waterline."

As she headed home, claimed Miss Madden, she heard footsteps behind her and turned to see Miss Drysdale following her into an alleyway where said: "You called my wean a black ba***rd" before punching her on the face, causing her to fall to the ground where she put on her hand to break the fall.

Miss Madden said she went straight to the police station to report the incident and they arranged for a van to take her to the Garrick Hospital where it was discovered she had broken her left wrist.

The following day, Miss Madden was taken to Dumfries Infirmary where she was operated on and had two metal bars placed into her arm during her five-day stay.

Defending Miss Drysdale was Paul Feeney, who suggested Miss Madden fell due to her intoxicated state.

But Miss Madden denied she was "drunk, drunk" and claimed that despite drinking a bottle of wine, two pints, a cocktail and various spirits throughout the night, she was able to recollect all events of the evening clearly.

Miss Drysdale admitted she had slapped Miss Madden but that she had fallen of her own accord.

" I suggest you were slapped but remained on your feet throughout this incident," said Mr Feeney, but Miss Madden denied this.

A witness, Elizabeth Wellbelove, a barmaid at The Waterline, left the pub after a staff party at around the same time as Miss Madden and claims she saw Miss Drysdale pull Miss Madden's hair but didn't see a punch.

Mr Feeney read out extracts from a statement given to the police shortly after the incident, in which Miss Wellbelove told them she had witnessed a punch.

"I asked you specifically if you had seen a punch and you said no," he said.

"You told the police you did."

Miss Wellbelove's reply was: "Well, it was a long time ago."

Following a lunchtime adjournment, Miss Drysdale returned with a guilty plea, ammended to remove the word "pulled her hair, causing her to fall to the ground."

Depute fiscal Alan Cameron said: "Due to the way the evidence is coming out, that plea is acceptable."

Paul Feeney told the sheriff: "This was a fairly unfortunate incident but Miss Drysdale has been doing her level best to avoid the complainer since."

A charge that Miss Drysdale also pulled Miss Madden's hair in The Waterline was dropped and Sheriff Smith said: "You have plead guilty to something that has been greatly watered down and wouldn't have been dealt with by jury trial had you plead guilty to it at first."

He deferred sentence for six months for Miss Drysdale to be of good behaviour.