Former Reggae star, Finley Quaye, who had a warrant issued for his arrest after he failed to appear for sentencing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court earlier this month, narrowly escaped a prison sentence when he voluntarily appeared today.
In July of this year, 38-year old Quaye, who lives in London, pled guilty to a racially aggravated assault on a 36-year old woman in Leith Walk on October 8 last year. The court heard that about 10.30 in the evening the woman was waiting at a bus stop when Quaye approached her and said: “Do you know that this country is a racist country?” He then spat on the woman’s face and hit her on the head.
Quaye’s lawyer on that occasion, Cameron Tait, said Quaye had grown up in the Leith area and had come back to Edinburgh two months before the incident. When people found out who he was, said Mr Tait, he was getting pestered in the street and subjected to racial abuse. On the day of the incident, he had taken Codeine and been drinking in a pub in Leith Walk. When he came out of the pub he had been racially abused and chased up the street by an individual.
Mr Tait said Quaye claimed that in an intoxicated state he had tried to engage in conversation with the woman. He said his memory was clouded, but at one point the woman made an abusive remark to him that he should: “Go back to the hole he had come from”.
Sentence was deferred on Quaye for reports until August, but when he did appear, his lawyer at that time, David Cairns, told Sheriff Fiona Reith QC that he had been put in an “awkward position” as Quaye had not paid his fees, so he was withdrawing from the case. Sheriff Reith deferred sentence again until October 5 to allow Quaye either to pay the fees, get another lawyer or represent himself. She warned him: “You have to be careful to come back on that date. There’s no excuse not to come”.
On October 5, Quaye did not show up. Solicitor, David Patterson, appearing for the singer, told Sheriff Reith that Quaye had contacted his firm the previous evening asking them to represent him. Mr Patterson said he had no information as to why his client had not appeared, but added that Quaye was bankrupt and might have had difficulty in paying fares. Sheriff Reith issued an arrest warrant.
When Quaye turned up today, Sheriff Reith warned him that he had broken two conditions of his bail: failing to co-operate in the preparation of reports and failing to appear for sentencing. She commented: “He was able to get to Miami to attend a gig. I would like to know how he managed to go to Miami, but not Edinburgh?” Mr Patterson told her the Miami trip had been paid for by the event organisers. “At the time he had no money for himself”.
Quaye, the lawyer said, had been quite shocked by what he had done to the woman and was deeply ashamed. He was a recovering alcoholic and had attended Alcoholics Anonymous to address his alcohol abuse. His client had previous convictions, but none were racially aggravated.
Sheriff Reith told Quaye: “This was a disgraceful and disgusting offence which left the complainer upset and shaken. It was really appalling behaviour. You should be, and I am told you are, completely ashamed of your behaviour. You should indeed be thoroughly ashamed of the way you conducted yourself in these proceedings by failing to attend for the deferred sentence and failing to co-operate in the preparation of reports”.
She added: “The position is that, having considered these matters, I am just persuaded to deal with this case by way of a Community Payback Order with a period of unpaid work and supervision. If you breach these and do not comply with the Social Work officers in London, they will pick you up and bring you up here and your chances of avoiding custody are extremely unlikely”. She put Quaye under supervision for 18 months and ordered him to carry out 225 hours of unpaid work within six months.
Quaye had a successful career in the 1990’s with songs such Even After All, Sunday Shining and Your Love Gets Sweeter and his debut album, Maverick A Strike, earned him the 1998 Brit Award for Best Male Solo Artist. In 1997 he won the Mobo Award for the Best Reggae Act. After that, however, his career went downhill.