THE trial of two brothers who were charged with terrorising their 74-year-old grandmother nine months ago has been dumped after prosecutors admitted they still weren't ready to proceed.

A sheriff rejected a motion for the case to be postponed to a later date after noting that a fiscal depute had declared just a fortnight earlier that there were no obstacles to it going ahead.

Formerly accused pair Rhys and Curtys Footit have walked free from allegations of threatening and abusive behaviour which was said to have caused their gran and mum fear and alarm.

Curtys Footit had also been charged with assaulting his mother within a flat at Greenock's Morton Terrace by pushing her to the floor, kicking her, causing her to strike her head on a cupboard and shoving her onto a glass table which broke.

The Crown motion to adjourn was strongly opposed by defence lawyer Aidan Gallagher who declared that prosecutors had plenty of time to 'get their house in order' with the case.

Mr Gallagher also pointed out the serious backlog of criminal matters which has built up as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

He said: "On August 4 the presiding sheriff specifically continued the case for the Crown to clarify if there would be any vulnerable witness issues.

"There was a continued intermediate diet on August 18 for the Crown to clarify and proceed to trial.

"Yet here we are today being advised that there is an issue with a civilian Crown witness."

Greenock Sheriff Court heard that the case was 'administratively adjourned' shortly before lockdown in March.

Solicitor Mr Gallagher said: "We have all been working throughout the lockdown period and there has been a five-month gap for the Crown to properly get its house in order to proceed to trial.

"Cases are being repeatedly churned, creating a backlog in the court programme.

"The Crown have had every opportunity to get to get their house in order.

"If this is an ongoing situation we will only find a bigger and longer backlog to the court programme."

It is understood that both key prosecution witnesses had attended court to give evidence in the case but a medical issue had come to light concerning the capacity of one of them to testify.

A fiscal depute told the court: "The condition of the witness has only just become known to the Crown."

The court heard that prosecutors didn't cite the witnesses until the end of July — a full four months after the case was adjourned on March 23.

Sheriff Michael Higgins rejected the Crown motion and deserted the case.

The sheriff said: "The first calling pre-dated lockdown and there have been two further intermediate diets."