Lorry driver cleared of £100,000 whisky theft

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A convicted human trafficker has been cleared of stealing a near £100,000 cargo of whisky from a Bellshill depot.

Maris Bukovskis was handed a not proven verdict after a trial at Hamilton Sheriff Court.

It was the second time he had stood trial on the same charge, proceedings were halted earlier this year when a defence witness was too ill to give evidence.

The jury was not told of Bukovskis’s criminal past which includes being jailed for 14 years for his involvement in trafficking women.

Bukovskis (53) was accused of stealing the load after picking it up from the William Grant depot in Bellshill in February last year. It never reached its destination, Riga, the Latvian capital.

He claimed his boss ordered him to transfer the trailer to another lorry driver in France while he was despatched to another job.

The whisky was never seen again and the company, which employed him, no longer exist.

The court heard Bukovskis was employed by a company in Latvia called Mansantrans. The job to pick up whisky from Bellshill was only his second for the firm.

When the customer tried to find out why his consignment had not arrived he was unable to contact Mansantrans, which defence agent Andy Thomson observed, had “simply disappeared”.

Bukovskis was working at a building site in Germany when he was arrested nearly a year after the theft and spent around a year in jail awaiting trial.