Jailed over punch that changed a man’s life

A Yell man who rendered his assault victim unconscious with a single blow to the head is beginning a 12-month prison term.

Euan Henderson, 34, of Gloup, Cullivoe was handed the year-long sentence at Lerwick Sheriff Court yesterday.

Henderson had pulled the man from a van as he tried to drive away from a social function in the isle.

The two had been at the gathering, where a “needling” had brewed between them.

Sentence on Henderson was due to be passed two weeks ago, after he admitted causing the man permanent injury in the assault.

However, the outcome of the case had to be delayed after an attempt was made to influence the sheriff Philip Mann’s ruling.

That meant Henderson was yes­terday sentenced by sheriff Marion MacDonald, who has no previous involvement in the case.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mac­Kenzie said there had been a long history between the two.

The incident reached a climax when the man failed to get away after stalling the vehicle’s engine.

Henderson pulled him out of the van and punched him once.

“The consequences of that were quite simply devastating for the complainer. Witnesses describe him as being unconscious before he hit the ground. He was unable to do anything to break his fall.”

The court heard the witness went home after waking up around 10 minutes later. He took to his bed but was taken to hospital in the morning – first to Lerwick and then by air ambulance to Aberdeen for specialist treatment.

Mr MacKenzie said the victim had a long stay in hospital where he went through “complex surgery”.

He had since experienced mem­ory loss, and there was a “significant potential” for him to suffer from epilepsy.

“This is truly a life-changing experience for the complainer. The quality of his life is not, and never will be, what it was prior to this incident.”

Defence agent Tommy Allan said Henderson was remorseful for what he had done, and wished he could “turn the clock back”.

He insisted Henderson had no significant history of offending, adding the social enquiry report considered him to be of no risk to the public.

“I mean in no way to compare his suffering to that of the victim, but clearly this has been devastating for Mr Henderson, and life-changing for him as well.

“I have to testify that he’s done nothing but treat this with the utmost concern and seriousness. He’s done everything asked by me to do and beyond.”

Mr Allan said Henderson har­boured no ill feeling to his victim, adding there was no “underlying hatred”.

He added Henderson wanted to be forgiven by his community as well as by the victim.

Mr Allan said Henderson had abided by bail conditions, during which time he had “kept himself to himself” and had, to some extent, already been serving a sentence.

“He’d like his punishment to allow him to continue to be in the community that’s still his home.”

Sheriff Macdonald told Hender­son: “This is a very serious offence you have pled guilty to. This is a tragedy for your victim, but also for you and your family.”

She said she had taken into account the remorse he had shown as well as the offence being out of character for Henderson.

But she warned there was no alternative but to impose a custodial sentence.

“You went to his car and pulled him out of the car. It must have been a very heavy punch to have made him unconscious before he hit the ground.”

She reduced his sentence from 18 months to reflect his early plea.


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