23rd June 2017

Year in jail for man who turned up in court ‘out of it’

, by , in Headlines, News

A man who last week appeared in the dock “out of it” on a cocktail of Special Brew and powerful prescribed drugs has been jailed for over a year.

Craig Nelson was due to stand trial last week after facing several charges, including brandishing a knife and assaulting police officers.

But he was held in remand over the Easter weekend after arriving late at court on Thursday in a drunken state. Sheriff Philip Mann warned him at the time he could find him in contempt of court.

Today the sheriff carried through his threat, despite pleas from defence agent Tommy Allan that Nelson, 37, of Hoofields, had misjudged the effect of alcohol mixed with the powerful anti-depressant drugs he was on.

Nelson admitted breaching the peace by conducting himself in a disorderly manner, shouting and swearing, making threats and brandishing a knife, on 9th January at Hoofields.

He admitted threatening to kill an on duty police officer, repeatedly kicking a police officer, and attempting to butt a police officer.

Nelson attempted to bite the hand of another officer, and repeatedly threatened to kill police constables once at the police station.

He also smeared faeces on a police cell camera lens and urinated over his cell door.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said Nelson had returned to the address where he had been staying in “an aggressive and belligerent mood”.

He said Nelson had begun shouting at people entering a neighbouring property.

Nelson stood outside their property and began shouting and swearing, waving a kitchen knife, and making threats to stab the occupants with the knife.

Police were soon called and they tried to detain Nelson but he “wasn’t happy about that”.

Mr MacKenzie said it may have been unfortunate for Nelson that his partner decided to film the incident involving the police on a mobile phone – not least because it showed Nelson adopting “wild animalistic behaviour”.

“It’s illuminating to watch this video because it shows two extremes of human behaviour,” the fiscal said.

“On one hand you have police officers acting with professionalism and dignity throughout, and on the other hand you have him shouting and screaming.”

Mr MacKenzie added that, whatever Nelson’s medical condition, it did not excuse him smearing excrement around the cell.

Mr Allan said the incident had taken place on the anniversary of the death of Nelson’s mother.

“He is trying to deal with that appropriately and in such a way that his behaviour does not land him in a situation like the one he finds himself today.”

He added there had been a “verbal exchange” with Nelson’s neighbours. “But he has to accept he shouldn’t have acted in the way that he did.”

Mr Allan admitted the video images did not look good, and added Nelson would have made less trouble for himself if he had “come quietly”.

He said there was little to say about Nelson’s behaviour at the police station, but an apology was contained in a letter submitted by Nelson to the sheriff.

“He accepts that his behaviour was out of order.”

Turning to the disastrous court appearance last week, Mr Allan said Nelson had recently had his dosage of powerful antidepressant mirtazapine doubled, and that had reacted badly with the drink he had taken.

He said Nelson had simply made a misjudgment, and insisted it had not been a deliberate attempt to come to court in a state that would mean business could not be dealt with.

“I am instructed to offer an apology,” Mr Allan said, adding that Nelson had been in custody since Thursday.

But Sheriff Mann was not convinced that Nelson should be allowed his liberty.

“I’m not going to beat about the bush,” he told him. “These are serious offences and one of them includes making threats while brandishing a knife. In my view there is no alternative to a custodial sentence.”

He jailed him for 51 weeks, plus an extra two months for being contemptuous of the court. The sentence was backdated to last Thursday.

Sheriff Mann said:”You more than anyone would know to mix alcohol with the medication you’re on is likely to put you in a position where you’re not really fit to attend court or give proper instructions to your solicitor.

“You were clearly out of it last Thursday and that caused considerable inconvenience to the court.”