AN Elderslie man who beat a legal bid to ban him from shaving while facing trial for weapons offences has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

David Roach had been the subject of an attempt to make him promise he would leave his long dark beard intact as he awaited trial for allegedly arming himself with a knife and behaving in a threatening or abusive way by brandishing weapons.

But a judge ruled it was not appropriate to interfere with Mr Roach’s physical appearance.

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Mr Roach, 30, then shaved off his bushy black beard and, when witnesses were shown pictures of him looking clean-shaven during a video identification parade, they did not pick him out as being the man responsible for the alleged offences.

Yesterday, he was cleared when he appeared in the dock at Paisley Sheriff Court to go on trial over he case.

Mr Roach denied having a knife on him in public, without a reasonable excuse or permission from the government, in Ferguslie Park Avenue, Paisley, on January 11 this year.

He was also said to have behaved in a threatening or abusive way on the same occasion by shouting, swearing and brandishing weapons.

The Gazette: David Roach with his beard David Roach with his beard

At a previous court hearing, defence solicitor Kirsty McGeehan asked for the trial to be adjourned for an identification parade to take place ahead of the new trial being fixed, pointing out that a witness had mentioned the man responsible had a “large beard” but had never been asked to pick out the man in question.

She said that Mr Roach’s right to a fair trial could be prejudiced if the witness was asked to identify him in court.

Procurator fiscal depute Frank Clarke tried to have Mr Roach banned from being able to shave off his beard as a result.

However, Mrs McGeehan said that would be unfair to her client – and her position was backed by Sheriff Craig Harris, who said: “I’m not sure I can really get involved in that.”

After that hearing, Mr Roach shaved his beard off and was not picked out by anyone who viewed the ID parade.

When he appeared in the dock again yesterday, he walked free after his not guilty pleas were accepted.

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One legal source said: “There wasn’t enough evidence to convict Mr Roach as it couldn’t be proved he was at the scene, so they didn’t even bother starting the trial.”

Mr Roach’s former girlfriend Karen Kennedy admitted arming herself with a weapon, in the form of a piece of wood, and behaving in a threatening or abusive way.

Her defence solicitor, Paul Lynch, asked Sheriff David Pender to adjourn the case without proceeding to conviction, with a view to granting Kennedy, 22, an absolute discharge – a form of disposal that means that, although she has admitted behaviour that amounts to criminal conduct, it does not count as a conviction against her.

Sheriff Pender agreed and adjourned the case until later this year.

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