Highlands & Islands

Ullapool diver accused of speeding 'under the sea'

A deep sea diver accused of driving at 117mph on the A9 failed to appear in court because he was "under the sea somewhere", a sheriff was told.

Inverness Sheriff Court heard it was the eighth time Andrew Ross, from Ullapool, had not turned up as asked.

Sheriff Andrew Berry set another date and ordered that employment records be produced to back Mr Ross's claim.

The 34-year-old has denied driving at excessive speed on the A9 at Daviot, near Inverness, on 31 January 2011.

'Stuck abroad'

Solicitor John McColl told the sheriff why Mr Ross had failed to appear in court.

He said: "Mr Ross is a deep sea saturation diver but is stuck abroad under the sea somewhere in a self-enclosed tank.

"He has been in this tank since the last calling of this case and is unaware of the calling of this case today."

Mr McColl added: "I accept it is not a satisfactory situation.

"It does not appear to be Mr Ross's fault that he is not here today. He does not know about it."

'On land'

Depute fiscal David Herbert, prosecuting, said he had been told that the case was ready to go to trial.

He said: "But in light of the fact that we are in the position where we can not proceed to trial today then I make no formal objection. That will not persist to be the case."

Mr Herbert told the court he was only made aware of the situation on Tuesday after seeing a letter sent to the sheriff clerk's office.

The fiscal said this letter requested a new trial diet be fixed during a four-week period from 9 March.

He told the court: "This is when Ross will be on land."

Mr McColl said it could be of assistance if a preliminary hearing was held a day or two before the trial date to "ensure he is on land".

Sheriff Berry said: "This is the eighth time this case has been called.

"It was first called on 8 July last year and Ross has not been present on any of these occasions."

A new trial date was set for 16 March with a preliminary hearing set down for 13 March.

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