Abuse charge community councillor quits role

Derek Thomson has quit his position as treasurer of Gilmerton Inch Community Council. Picture: contributed
Derek Thomson has quit his position as treasurer of Gilmerton Inch Community Council. Picture: contributed
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A COMMUNITY councillor has stepped down after appearing in court for shouting abuse at his partner and the police.

Pressure had been growing on Derek Thomson to quit Gilmerton Inch Community Council after it emerged he had been charged in connection with a domestic incident.

At a previous hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, he pleaded guilty to behaving in a threatening or abusive manner by shouting and swearing at his partner Elaine Manst and two police officers on November 10 last year.

The 53-year-old committed the offence at his former home at Moredun House, Gilmerton, while on bail for a previous offence.

Thomson is a well-known treasurer of the community council and is understood to have held the position since the group was formed in 2013.

He was due to be sentenced yesterday but the case has now been deferred until May.

The court heard that Thomson had taken medication for depression and had been trying to address serious alcohol problems which often “exacerbated” domestic issues.

Sheriff Kathrine MacKie amended Thomson’s bail conditions to allow him to have contact with Ms Manst, however he is still banned from entering Moredun House.

Sheriff MacKie said this would “allow sanctuary” for Ms Manst, adding: “They can discuss where their relationship is going, if anywhere. But there is somewhere to go if she’s had enough.”

Thomson, who now lives in Cunningham House, Craigmillar Park, will be sentenced on May 13 following a review meeting with his social worker.

He is also hoping to be accepted into the LEAP scheme – a day programme for people dependent on substances based at Malta House in the Capital.

Thomson has lived in south Edinburgh for 15 years and was described as having a “strong community spirit”. On the community group’s website, he writes that he has a “deep interest” in helping to improve the south of Edinburgh and regularly takes part in litter-picking in the Moredun area.

He was also active in projects with Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust and social charity Comas Scotland, which supports people battling addiction.

When approached outside the court yesterday, Thomson told the News he resigned from the community council last week but declined to comment further on the case.

One resident who originally raised concerns about Thomson’s position on the community council said he was relieved to hear he had stepped down.

The local, who asked not to be named, said: “This is a very welcome victory for local residents who in the last couple of weeks have left him in no doubt as to the only course of action we feel is open to him.”

It is understood members of the community planned to stand against Thomson at the next community council elections if he decided not to resign.

Reverend Cammy Mackenzie, vice-chairman of Gilmerton Inch Community Council, said: “I am very, very sorry to hear about the trouble that Derek is in. It is a real shame that a man with such a strong community spirit has come to this and indeed I am sure Derek will be feeling really awful.”

Rev Mackenzie added: “Regardless of what he might or might not have been charged with, Derek has indeed stepped down from the community council and his work has been taken over by others.”

The community council was formed in November 2013 as a forum for local residents in the south Edinburgh community.

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com