80 hours unpaid work in the community for Yes supporter
A Scottish independence supporter who threw eggs at Jim Murphy MP on Kirkcaldy High Street has been ordered to complete 80 hours unpaid work in the community.
Stuart MacKenzie (45), of Whytehouse Mansions, Kirkcaldy, appeared before Sheriff Kenneth McGowan at the town’s sheriff court on Thursday afternoon.
MacKenzie admitted that on August 28 on High Street, Kirkcaldy he assaulted Jim Murphy MP and repeatedly threw eggs at him and struck him on the body with an egg.
He committed the offence while on bail.
Jim Murphy was in the Lang Toun on his ‘100 Streets in 100 Days’ tour last Thursday afternoon when the incident happened.
Police had been contacted by an anonymous member of the public who was concerned that the gathering had become heated and the crowd rowdy and disruptive at around 3.30 p.m.
Officers monitored the situation on CCTV.
The court heard that MacKenzie had been in his house, which overlooks the scene, when an audience comprising of supporters of both the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns had gathered to hear Mr Murphy speak.
He had heard a commotion in the street and recognised Mr Murphy as part of the ‘No’ campaign.
MacKenzie’s defence agent, David Cranston, said that his client had initially gone down onto the High Street to “try and ask intelligent questions”.
Mr Cranston said that MacKenzie had asked Mr Murphy what he had against democracy and became irritated that he didn’t get a response.
The court heard that MacKenzie had bought half a dozen eggs from the nearby Tesco supermarket.
The procurator fiscal depute said the accused was seen to throw three eggs at Mr Murphy but missed on all occasions.
She said that the witness took “evasive action” to avoid being hit.
MacKenzie then repositioned himself on the other side of the crowd and threw another egg from approximately 12 feet away, but missed.
The fiscal depute continued that he then approached the witness and “physically struck him” on the back with an egg.
The court heard that MacKenzie had handed himself in to police on Wednesday following wide media coverage of the event.
Speaking to police MacKenzie said: “I’d like to apologise to Mr Murphy and for bringing the Yes campaign into disrepute unintentionally.”
Mr Cranston stated: “He’s not part of any concerted attempt to disrupt meetings by Better Together and if there are concerted efforts he wants no part of them.”
He added: “He genuinely recognises that what he has done is bizarre and shameful.”
Sentencing MacKenzie to a community payback order with 80 hours of unpaid work, Sheriff McGowan said: “We’re very fortunate in this country we live in a stable democracy where for the most part political discourse can be taken freely and without risk of violence and disorder.
“I realise from time to time passions can become inflamed, but that’s no excuse for resulting in these really childish antics.
“My main concern here is that where this took place there was a large number of people.
“It could have been a trigger, a catalyst, for other disorder that would have been out of your control.”