A SHERIFF'S decision to order a Rosyth man to wear an electronic tag after he failed to attend court was "incompetent" and has been quashed on appeal.

Ceiryn Meade was given a restriction of liberty order for contempt of court because he "forgot" to turn up and give evidence as a witness in a trial at Dunfermline Sheriff Court.

The order requires offenders to wear a tag on their leg or wrist and observe a curfew that, typically, means they must stay home between 7pm and 7am.

However, an appeal against his sentence was submitted and three sheriffs decided that it was not an appropriate punishment.

The opinion of the Sheriff Appeal Court, delivered by Sheriff Norman McFadyen, said: "We are satisfied that the restriction of liberty order in this case was not competently imposed and we shall quash that order."

He said the appropriate penalty for contempt of court, where a witness wilfully fails to attend, is a fine or a period in prison not exceeding 21 days.

And there was no provision for alternative forms of punishment, including alternatives to imprisonment.

Sheriff McFadyen explained: "Unless the court is empowered to impose a sentence of imprisonment, it cannot impose a restriction of liberty order.

"Since the punishment of contempt is not a sentence, a restriction of liberty order is not a competent penalty.

"The court is limited to a very short term of imprisonment or a level three fine."

He also said that failing to attend due to forgetfulness was "not necessarily contempt of court" and the court had to be satisfied that the witness was "wilfully defying the court or was intending disrespect to the court or was acting in any way against the court or was attempting to pervert the course of justice”.

Sheriff McFadyen said: "In this case, the sheriff has not explained why he rejected the explanation that the appellant had forgotten his citation."

Where a witness has failed to attend and does not admit contempt, he said the "court should be cautious about proceeding immediately to a finding of contempt unless the explanation afforded is manifestly absurd".

Sheriff McFadyen said: "In this case, the sheriff proceeded immediately to 'sentence' on the day the appellant was brought before the court on the warrant which had been granted in respect of his non-appearance and his reasons for doing so seem, to some extent, to have been tied up with his sentencing the appellant on another matter."

Meade's last appearance at Dunfermline Sheriff Court was in February, when he was on a community payback order and a restriction of liberty order.

Together with co-accused Lennon McAlpine, of Kirkcaldy, he pleaded guilty that, on December 16, 2018, at Rosyth Fish Bar on Heath Road, they shouted, swore, sprayed the contents of a sauce bottle on the floor, threw a salt shaker and sauce bottle at a wall, gestured aggressively and threw a plastic display and chair, causing damage.

They also admitted they assaulted a man by spraying a bottle of sauce at his head and body, threw the contents of a salt shaker at him and threw the bottle and the salt shaker, striking him on the head and body, all to his injury.

Meade admitted a further offence of breaching curfew conditions.