Falkirk Sheriff Court to hear “vulnerable witness evidence in private

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The jury trial of an ex-councillor, charged with breaching trust and embezzling almost a quarter of a million pounds, was postponed today to allow the evidence of her 93-year-old alleged victim to be taken in private.

Alice Duncan (71), a former member of Balquhidder, Lochearnhead and Strathyre Community Council in Perthshire, is accused of taking the money over a three-and-a-half year period while she held a Power of Attorney in respect of Jean Rossel.

Prosecutor Samantha Brown told Falkirk Sheriff Court that the alleged victim was now 93 and a “vulnerable” witness.

She applied for her evidence to be taken by commission – which means that she will be questioned and cross-examined by prosecution and defence before a sheriff in private.

A video recording of this will then be played to the jury.

Duncan, of Keip Road, Strathyre, maintained a previously-tendered plea of not guilty.

The single charge against her alleges that between January 1, 2011 and October 30, 2014, at her home in the village of Strathyre and elsewhere “while in a position of trust to, and whilst holding a power of attorney of, Jean Rossel”, she “did embezzle sums of money amounting to in excess of £241,972 or thereby”.

Sheriff John Mundy postponed Duncan’s trial, due to start today, until July 2.

Duncan was also ordered to attend a procedural hearing on May 29, after which the evidence by commission will have been taken.