The first jury to sit in Aberdeen in almost a year has convicted a man over a serious assault on his then partner.
Eight men and seven women made history earlier this week by becoming the first jury in Aberdeen to take part in a trial by following proceedings from a nearby cinema.
It was the first jury trial run in the city in nearly a full year after Covid-19 brought the justice system to almost a complete stop at the beginning of the pandemic.
The remote jury centre at the Vue cinema on Shiprow has been adapted to house 15 members of the public, fully socially distanced, and with the necessary safety measures in place, to act as the jury.
And they took just two hours to reach a verdict in the case of Keith Harper, who was accused of assaulting his partner at Lamond Place in Aberdeen on January 22 2019, leaving her with a fractured cheekbone and eye socket.
Harper, 55, was found guilty by majority over punching her to the face and leaving her severely injured.
He was found guilty under deletion of part of the charge which related to the punch causing his partner to fall onto a chair, and to a second punch, to the body.
The trial ran to its conclusion yesterday after it was abandoned on day three in January last year due to a malfunction with the court’s recording equipment.
Following the verdict, defence agent Gregor Kelly asked for sentence to be deferred for reports to be prepared.
Sheriff Summers’ comments
Sheriff William Summers, addressing Harper, of Fullerton Court, Aberdeen, directly, said: “The jury has convicted you subject to deletions. You have been convicted of the most serious part of the charge.
“You have a raft of previous convictions, many of which are analogous.
“Your record is profoundly troubling because of the nature of the offences and the fact many of them were committed with a domestic aggravation.
“There is a very significant likelihood that in due course a custodial sentence will be imposed.
“That is because of the gravity of the offence, the nature of the aggravation and your record.”
He deferred sentence until April for reports.
Addressing the jury in the cinema, Sheriff Summers said: “Ladies and gentlemen, your task as a juror is now complete.
“I don’t know what you have made of the experience, this is new to all of us.
“You are the first jury to sit on a jury trial at Aberdeen Sheriff Court in the best part of a year.
“I want to thank you for the time and attention you have given.”
Harper had lodged a special defence of self-defence and claimed he had punched his partner to free himself as she was biting his chin so hard he thought she wanted to bite it off.
But the jury rejected this argument and convicted him.