‘Stupidity’ as inmate tried to stop witnesses going to court

An inmate of HMP Perth, McColl was actually acquitted of the original crime.
An inmate of HMP Perth, McColl was actually acquitted of the original crime.

A DOPEY inmate wrote letters to witnesses due to give evidence against him in a bid to avoid a maximum of one year in jail – only to land himself an 18 month sentence when his scheme was rumbled.

Darryl McColl would have faced up to 12 months imprisonment if he had been convicted of driving while disqualified.

While on remand awaiting trial he posted letters to two eyewitnesses at their home in St Monans, from his prison cell at HMP Perth telling them they didn’t need to turn up at his trial to give evidence.

The women he sent them to were suspicious – and turned up to court anyway and reported the letters to police.

McColl stood trial over the motoring charge and was acquitted despite the eyewitnesses turning up – meaning his scheme was pointless in any event.

But the stunt cost him in the long run – landed him an even longer jail term than he could have faced had he been convicted of the driving offence.

A sheriff jailed him for 18 months for attempting to pervert the course of justice and told him his scheme “strikes right at the heart of justice”.

Fiscal depute Charmaine Gilmartin told Dundee Sheriff Court: “The letter was analysed for fingerprints and his were found on it.

“The matter for which he was to stand trial and that these persons were to give evidence in was a charge of disqualified driving.

“The two witnesses received citations to give evidence for the Crown on November 18 2016.

“They were said to have observed him driving and were crucial witnesses.

“They received these letters and were not convinced it was genuine and reported it to police.

“The accused was in custody on remand when this letter was delivered.

“Calls were recovered from Perth Prison with discussions between him and other persons about whether the trial would go ahead if the witnesses didn’t attend and discussion about their address.

“The letter was ultimately sent for forensic analysis and found positive for fingerprints on the letter and envelope.”

McColl (30) a prisoner at HMP Perth, pleaded guilty on indictment to attempting to pervert the course of justice between October 20 2016 and November 16 2016 while on bail.

Defence solicitor Steven Gleeson told the court it was a “completely naive attempt at this offence” and said the women had realised immediately the letter was not from the procurator fiscal’s office.

He said McColl accepted it was a serious matter but his actions were made all the more stupid because the case he was charged with had proceeded to trial and he was acquitted of that.

He said: “That only underlines the stupidity of it.”

Sheriff Alastair Carmichael told McColl he had no alternative but to impose a custodial sentence of 18 months.

He said: “This may be a naive attempt but nevertheless it was an attempt to stop witnesses giving evidence at court which strikes right at the heart of justice.”