A policewoman who is said to have been “badly hurt” and who “feared for her life” in the incident that led to the death of Sheku Bayoh “may never be fit to stand trial” over data protection allegations, a court was told today.
Nicole Short was due to appear for trial at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court accused of illegally accessing information on the police computer system ahead of a trial later this month.
PC Short was involved in the struggle that led to the death of father-of-two Sheku Bayoh in Kirkcaldy’s Hayfield Road on May 3.
Police Federation bosses say she suffered “significant” injuries during the incident that led to the 31-year-old’s death.
The trial - which was originally to be heard at the start of 2015 – was then adjourned until last October, and again postponed to this month.
But at a pre-trial hearing lawyers said psychological and neurological assessments on Short had been carried out and that she may never be able to appear in the dock.
At an earlier hearing Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court heard PC Short had been involved in an “incident in Kirkcaldy” that had led to a “complicated medical state”.
Joe Paterson, defending, said: “The Crown has been given psychiatric and neurological reports and had the accused assessed by their own psychiatrist.
“There are some doubts whether she can ever participate in the trial process.
“There may be a plea in bar of trial on the basis of her medical state.”
Sheriff Grant McCulloch said he would convert a trial date set down later this month to a “notional trial diet” and excused Short’s attendance at that hearing.
That means no evidence will be led on that date, with a decision to be taken on how to take the case forward.
Short (30), of Glenrothes pleaded not guilty on summary complaint to three charges under the Data Protection Act.
She is accused of accessing confidential information on the Police Scotland computer system in October 2012 and also of obtaining personal data relating to two men from Fife Constabulary’s Crimefile system and the Scottish Intelligence Database for non-policing purposes in a separate incident.
In a statement released after Sheku Bayoh’s death, Professor Peter Watson, the Police Federation’s legal advisor said: “The officer injured remains off work, has had several hospital visits and is now in rehabilitation.
“An examination by a leading consultant confirms her injuries were significant. The injuries have been documented and photographed.”
Mr Bayoh (31), collapsed and died after being restrained by officers who were following up reports of a suspect wielding a knife.
The father-of-two’s family, who say they received differing stories on how he died following the incident, and his partner Colette, have been campaigning for answers.
The case is currently being investigated by police watchdog, the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC), with campaigners calling for a review of its powers in light of Mr Bayoh’s case.