Airgun teen must wait to learn his fate

Samuel Barlow was photographed crouching behind a fence with the air rifle, advancing with it in his arms and aiming it at the police.
Samuel Barlow was photographed crouching behind a fence with the air rifle, advancing with it in his arms and aiming it at the police.

A teenager who wreaked havoc with an airgun must wait until next month to learn of his sentence after a psychological report failed to become available.

Samuel Barlow, 16, was today due for sentence at Lerwick Sheriff Court.

But Sheriff Philip Mann was told a psychological report which was due to be prepared in time for today’s hearing was – through no fault of Barlow – not available.

The upshot means Barlow must spend an extra four weeks in custody before hearing the outcome of his case, after the sheriff said it would not be appropriate to allow him his liberty at this stage. He has been held in the Polmont young offenders institution since first being remanded.

Barlow sparked a major alert when he wandered around with an air rifle on 23rd September.
He previously pleaded guilty to assault­ing two police officers in Scalloway, by threatening to shoot them.

In Lerwick he assaulted a man at Westerloch Drive before pointing an air rifle at police officers and threat­ening to shoot them. He also aimed at a police vehicle and threatened to fire at members of the public.

The dramatic scenes were de­clared a major firearms incident by police and a team of armed officers were flown to Lerwick from the mainland to deal with Barlow.

Today’s court heard the assessment, which was to be compiled by a psychologist, was not available due to personal circumstances.

Defence agent Tommy Allan launched a “tentative” bail application. He said Barlow had served the equivalent of “coming on towards” an eight month sentence. He added he hoped the sheriff would give him credit for the time he has already spent in custody.

But procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said Barlow should still be kept in custody. He added it was likely that Barlow would face a custodial sentence.

“Until we have a psychological assessment I don’t think we are able to assess the level of risk he poses to the public and to himself,” the fiscal said.

Sheriff Philip Mann expressed a level of sympathy for Barlow, but he was unwilling to release him on bail. He also warned him a custodial sentence was likely to be the final outcome of the case.

“I very much regret the delay that has been caused here, because you’re entitled to be sentenced on this matter as soon as possible so it’s not hanging over your head.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate at this stage to grant you your liberty.

“I’m prepared to retain an open mind and make a decision once the report is available, but for the moment the balance is towards a custodial sentence. I don’t think it would be fair on you to release you today for you to then find you are re-incarcerated.”

Barlow will appear again in court on 4th February.


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