Two 27-year-old men who violently assaulted another man when he was unable to defend himself narrowly avoided prison when they appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday.
Stuart Angus Hall of Goodlad Crescent, Lerwick, and Tristan Sinclair, of Sandside, Firth, both pleaded guilty to an assault that neither had any recollection of.
The court heard that around midnight on the morning of 19th April the victim, who was working in Shetland, had been in Da Noost pub in Commercial Street. He was refused service due to being intoxicated but remained in the premises, where he joined Hall, who was there with a female friend. The female became irritated with the victim, who then left the pub.
At that time Sinclair was walking along the street with his girlfriend. They encountered the victim, who made comments of a sexual nature to Sinclair’s girlfriend. The two men then “squared up” to each other. At this point an unidentified man came up and pinned the victim to the ground. Sinclair took the opportunity to assault the victim and punched him repeatedly. Patrons at Da Noost became aware of the altercation and went outside, when the situation deteriorated.
Hall also went outside and saw Sinclair, a friend of his, punching the victim. He pulled him off but it was not “well-intentioned” – he did it to make room to launch his own assault. The victim at this point was lying motionless on the ground and the unidentified man left the scene.
Hall started punching and kicking the victim’s head and body – witnesses were shocked and horrified at the brutality and thought the victim was dead.
An off-duty female police officer tried unsuccessfully to pull Hall away before phoning her colleagues. People were screaming for Hall to stop, but to no avail. Only his own physical exhaustion made him stop, at which point he and Sinclair walked off.
The victim was unconscious and bleeding heavily, with significant quantities of blood on the ground. The police arrived to accompany the man to hospital, cordon off the area and take photographs. The incident was described in court as a “very very serious assault indeed”, with the victim sustaining a four centimetre laceration below the eye, swelling to the face, profuse bleeding from the nose, and bruising to the shoulder and back.
At 2am Hall presented himself at the police station to admit the offence and was detained. Sinclair, identified by witnesses, was detained at Hall’s house at 2.45am.
Defence agent Tommy Allan said first-time offender Hall had faced up to his actions with maturity, and felt guilty and was genuinely remorseful.
Acting for Sinclair, defence agent Neil McRobert said Sinclair, who has previous convictions, was classed as a low risk of re-offending.
But Sheriff Graeme Napier said he did not think Sinclair had empathy with his victim, and considered custody as a means of “protecting the public from a loose cannon like Sinclair who goes round punching people at the slightest provocation”.
The sheriff said Sinclair had “significant issues” which could be addressed by a year’s probation. As well as probation, Sinclair was ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work and pay £750 compensation to the victim.
Hall was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £750 compensation.
The sheriff said the two men had behaved “appallingly” and both deserved to go to prison. They only escaped custody because each was in a stable relationship with a young child.