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Three courts in operation for first time at at Highland capital's justice hub

By Lorna Thompson

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A NEW chapter in the short but disrupted life of the new Inverness Justice Centre opened today.

For the first time since lockdown, three criminal courts were in operation, but the public and accused persons were still banned from attending.

Only custodies appeared either in person or by video link.

Inverness continues to be a hub for Elgin, Wick, Tain, Stornoway, Lochmaddy and Fort William sheriff courts.

The £23 million centre opened on March 30, with strict lockdown procedures, to operate as a hub court during the coronavirus outbreak. The fiscal service has yet to move in but other criminal justice agencies are slowly beginning to fill the building.

The first Justice of the Peace Court was presided over by magistrate Duncan McDonald with the fiscal depute being David Morton. Six cases were dealt with.

Sheriff Gary Aitken was on the bench for the first intermediate diet sheriff court where he is informed by prosecution and defence of their preparation for trial.

Some 20 cases were heard by him, including 16 from Inverness, three from Elgin and one from Portree.

Although a limited amount of work is being done there away from the courtroom, a date for criminal cases to be resumed before a sheriff has not yet been announced.

However, it is expected that they will begin sometime soon after the end of June with custodies continuing to be heard in Inverness.

More stories here.

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