Dundee Sheriff Court
A prisoner who wrote letters to witnesses telling them not to turn up in court has been jailed at Dundee Sheriff Court Wikimedia Commons

A prisoner on remand who wrote letters to witnesses due to give evidence against him telling them not to turn up has been jailed.

Darryl McColl was sentenced to 18 months for attempting to pervert the course of justice after pleading guilty at Dundee Sheriff Court on Wednesday (14 February).

Sheriff Alastair Carmichael said his actions struck "right at the heart of justice".

McColl, 30, had been on remand at HMP Perth. Between 20 October and 16 November, 2016, he wrote letters to two female witnesses in St Monans, Fife, pretending to be representing the procurator fiscal's office.

He told the eyewitnesses they were no longer needed at his trial for a motoring offence due to take place on 18 November, 2016 and should not turn up.

McColl faced up to a year in prison if he had been convicted of driving while disqualified.

But both women were suspicious of the letter and alerted police.

Fiscal deputy Charmaine Gilmartin told Dundee Sheriff Court: "The letter was analysed for fingerprints and his [McColl] were found on it."

McColl stood trial over the original motoring offence, and was acquitted even though both eyewitnesses turned up. But he was charged with the more serious crime of perverting the course of justice.

Defence solicitor Steven Gleeson said his client had made a "completely naive attempt at this offence" as both women had immediately realised the letters were not genuine.

But Sheriff Alastair Carmichael told McColl he had no option but to impose a custodial sentence.

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."