The effect of fluid velocity fluctuations on the dynamics of the particles in a turbulent gas–solid suspension is analysed in the low-Reynolds-number and high Stokes number limits, where the particle relaxation time is long compared with the correlation time for the fluid velocity fluctuations, and the drag force on the particles due to the fluid can be expressed by the modified Stokes law. The direct numerical simulation procedure is used for solving the Navier–Stokes equations for the fluid, the particles are modelled as hard spheres which undergo elastic collisions and a one-way coupling algorithm is used where the force exerted by the fluid on the particles is incorporated, but not the reverse force exerted by the particles on the fluid. The particle mean and root-mean-square (RMS) fluctuating velocities, as well as the probability distribution function for the particle velocity fluctuations and the distribution of acceleration of the particles in the central region of the Couette (where the velocity profile is linear and the RMS velocities are nearly constant), are examined. It is found that the distribution of particle velocities is very different from a Gaussian, especially in the spanwise and wall-normal directions. However, the distribution of the acceleration fluctuation on the particles is found to be close to a Gaussian, though the distribution is highly anisotropic and there is a correlation between the fluctuations in the flow and gradient directions. The non-Gaussian nature of the particle velocity fluctuations is found to be due to inter-particle collisions induced by the large particle velocity fluctuations in the flow direction. It is also found that the acceleration distribution on the particles is in very good agreement with the distribution that is calculated from the velocity fluctuations in the fluid, using the Stokes drag law, indicating that there is very little correlation between the fluid velocity fluctuations and the particle velocity fluctuations in the presence of one-way coupling. All of these results indicate that the effect of the turbulent fluid velocity fluctuations can be accurately represented by an anisotropic Gaussian white noise.