A CLACKS man will face trial accused of hiding alongside country lanes, footpaths and cycle tracks and invading the personal space of women taking their coronavirus daily exercise.

Mark Russell is alleged to have occasionally hid himself in bushes alongside the rural routes before stepping out when the complainers passed by.

A total of seven women are alleged to have been targeted since the Covid-19 outbreak began. An eighth woman is said to have been followed in the run-up to the crisis.

It is claimed the incidents took place at different spots near the foot of the Ochils and on the West Fife Way cycle route from Clackmannan to Dunfermline.

In all eight charges, Russell, 32, is accused of behaving in a threatening and abusive manner likely to cause a reasonable person fear and alarm by "maintaining unnecessarily close proximity" to them.

The most recent incident is said to have taken place on May 7, on the old Clackmannan to Dunfermline railway line bike path, where Russell is alleged to have concealed himself in bushes before staring at and pursuing two women passers-by – "knowingly failing to observe government Covid-19 social distancing guidelines" while doing so – and thereafter returning to conceal himself in bushes.

It is alleged that in committing this offence he breached an undertaking he had previously given to police to stay away from "cycle paths, nature trails or secluded areas that could be construed as popular walking routes by the public".

He is alleged to have pursued and maintained unnecessarily close proximity to two women on National Cycle Route 767 between Dollar and Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire, on March 11 and April 1, in the latter instance knowingly failing to observe social distancing rules.

On April 11 he is said to have pursued a woman closely, failing to observe social distancing, on Back Road, Menstrie, and similarly pursued another woman on a public footpath between Back Road, Dollar and Harviestoun Home Farm on April 21.

On May 3 he is alleged to have pursued a woman on a public footpath between Devonknowes Farm, Coalsnaughton and Dollar, hid himself in bushes, then pursued her again, maintaining unnecessarily close proximity, knowingly flouting social distancing.

The earliest incident is claimed to have taken place prior to the pandemic, between December 1, 2019, and January 19, 2020, when he is alleged to have "concealed himself in a country lane" at Back Road, Menstrie, stepped out when a woman was passing, and followed her, maintaining unnecessarily close proximity.

Appearing in handcuffs in the dock at Falkirk Sheriff Court on Wednesday, May 13, Russell, of Curlers Court, Dollar, pleaded not guilty to all eight charges against him.

His lawyer said the accused would agree to comply with a midday-to-midnight curfew if granted bail.

Sheriff Craig Harris set a trial for September 9, 2020, at Alloa Sheriff Court, and released Russell on bail, subject to the agreed curfew.

He also ordered Russell to attend any identification parades required by police, at no less than 72 hours' notice.