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CR0WN F00LS; Thugs in dock for brutal beating of nurse walk free after fiscals' error Victim slams the system after getting apology instead of justice: EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: HEATHER GREENAWAY

A NURSE has hit out at blundering prosecutors after the thugs who savagely beat her were allowed to walk free.

Aaron and Kevin Tracey were part of a cowardly gang who left Kirsty Armstrong and boyfriend Kyle Watson black and blue in a 20-minute attack.

Incredibly, charges against the pair were dropped because court officials could not understand each other's notes.

The fiscal struck a deal to drop charges for the attack on Kirsty in exchange for the brothers admitting a less serious assault on Kyle.

Kirsty and her family were not even told of the shameful behindthe-scenes deal.

A senior prosecutor in Dundee later made a grovelling apology.

Kirsty, 19 at the time of the attack, said: "I am distraught and furious that they will never be brought to justice.

"This horrific decision has left them free to prey on other vulnerable people. The next victim might not escape with their life.

"My face has healed but I still suffer back pain, I have terrible nightmares and wake up crying. I don't think I'll ever be able to walk down the street where it happened." Kirsty and Kyle, 18, were attacked by six young thugs after a night out in Dundee in November.

Kyle was punched and fell to the ground and Kirsty leapt in to try to protect him.

At this point three of the six ran away - leaving the Tracey brothers and Dale Bennet, who was 15 at the time. Kirsty said: "Aaron grabbed me by the throat while Kevin punched me on the back and head.

"The younger boy swung at me every so often. It went on for about 20 minutes."

Kirsty was so savagely beaten that her face was reset at hospital.

She also had a dislocated elbow, swollen jaw, fingermarks on her throat, torn shoulder muscles, head-to-toe bruising and internal bleeding.

At Dundee Sheriff Court on May 18, the fiscal allowed the brothers to admit assaulting Kyle, while dropping the charges relating to Kirsty.

Aaron, 19, was given 200 hours community service and told to pay Kyle pounds 200 compensation. Kevin, 17, was put on probation for two years and ordered to pay pounds 300 compensation.

Bennet, now 16, was dealt with by the Children's Panel.

Kirsty's blacksmith dad Scott, 42, said: "It's heartbreaking that there will be no justice for our daughter. The memory of her sitting here with her face swollen like a football will haunt me forever.

"At the sentencing, Sheriff Richard Davidson said if Kyle's injuries had been more serious he would have jailed them.

"If he had known about the attack on Kirsty, these thugs could be behind bars."

Arthur Whelan, principal Procurator Fiscal depute for Dundee, wrote a letter of apology to Kirsty and her family admitting: "I am of the view that the pleas of not guilty to assaulting Kirsty should not have been accepted.

"I have to accept that an error was made and I apologise for this.

"Unfortunately, one colleague misunderstood another colleague's notes on the papers."

A Crown Office spokesman said: "Aaron and Kevin Tracey should have been brought to trial on the assault to injury charge against Miss Armstrong.

"This was a deeply regrettable error and we have written to Miss Armstrong and her family to offer our unreserved apologies for the distress caused.

"Procedures have been put in place to help prevent this happening in any other case."

The Tracey brothers' dad Kevin Snr said: "This has been a complete nightmare. My sons never touched the girl. It was the younger boy who admitted the attack on her."

MSP Paul Martin, shadow community safety minister, has pledged to raise Kirsty's case with the Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini.

He said: "The victim has been horrifically let down."

h.greenaway@sundaymail.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

Traumatised: Kirsty and Kyle Blood brothers: Kevin Tracey, far left, and brother Aaron had charges of battering Kirsty, right, dropped
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 12, 2009
Words:655
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