A BUILDER has wept in court after being cleared of taping up a five-year-old boy’s arms and legs and hanging him from the ceiling in a bag.
James Menzies was yesterday found not guilty of assaulting the boy and repeatedly punching his 13-year-old brother.
A jury at Livingston Sheriff Court took an hour to unanimously reject prosecution claims that Menzies, 35, Sellotaped the younger boy’s arms and legs, zipped him inside a toolbag and hung him from the ceiling before using him as a punchbag.
Menzies, of East Whitburn, West Lothian, broke down in tears when the verdict was announced.
Allegations that the builder had repeatedly pinned the teenager to the ground and given him “dead arms and dead legs” were also thrown out by the jury.
Giving evidence in his own defence as the five-day trial drew to a close, Menzies described the assault allegations as “a total fabrication”.
He claimed the boys’ mum, who he befriended on Facebook before moving in to her home, had colluded with her children to frame him.
He said: “I’ve had to sit in this courtroom for three days listening to my character being destroyed. It’s an absolute disgrace. I’m being stitched up. She put them up to this.”
Two of Menzies’ former employees gave evidence that they had heard the boy’s mother threatening to “ruin” the accused’s life.
Prosecutor Brent Bissett asked the jury to accept that the boy’s mum was not “a woman hell-bent on revenge”. He said: “There was no vendetta, no conspiracy by this family to get back at Mr Menzies.”
In her closing address, defence lawyer Hazel McGuinness highlighted “a number of significant discrepancies” in the versions of events given by the boys and their mum. She said the older boy had contradicted his brother’s evidence.
She asked: “Is it plausible that a bag could be hung on the ceiling to hold the weight of a child?
“Is it feasible that a coat hook could hold the weight of a five or six-year-old?
“Is it feasible that a child could be punched ten times by an adult without having any physical injuries?”
She said the Sellotape claim in particular was “unbelievable”, adding: “The differences in the evidence are too great to be brushed aside.”
Menzies had denied placing Sellotape around the younger boy’s hands and feet, putting him in a bag, hanging the bag on the wall, repeatedly punching him, and locking the boy in his room. He also denied pinning the older boy to the ground and repeatedly punching him at a house in West Lothian between August 1 and December 10, 2010.