21st November 2018
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Detained air rifle teenager appeals sentence

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The teenager who was sentenced to three years in custody after threat­ening people with an air rifle is appealing against his sentence.

Father of 16 year-old Samuel Barlow, Paul Barlow, says his son hopes to receive a reduction in his custodial term, or a community-based sentence as an alternative.

It follows an online campaign in support of the teenager, who suffers from learning difficulties.

Last week the young Barlow, who is being kept at the Polmont Young Offenders Institution, was handed the sentence by sheriff Philip Mann after he admitted wreaking havoc in Lerwick last September.

He aimed his weapon at police in the Scord, Scalloway, before heading into Lerwick on foot and pointing the gun at people.

At the height of the drama Barlow became involved in a tense stand-off with armed police officers. But although the incident caused height­ened tension, with armed back-up flying up from Inverness by heli­copter, no-one was injured, and no trigger was pulled.

Sentencing him, sheriff Mann said he had “no alternative” to a custodial sentence, although he added it was “with no great joy” that he sent him to prison.

The court case resulted in an on­line petition being launched, which attracted widespread support.

Speaking to The Shetland Times, Bar­low’s father said an appeal was being launched.

“We want either a reduction to the sentence or a community order,” he said. “That is my hope”.

He said the support that there had been for his son was “very im­pressive”. He added the family were in regular contact with Samuel.

“We’ve been talking about this quite a lot,” he said.

Local inspector Lindsay Tulloch said: “The sentence passed at Ler­wick Sheriff Court demonstrates
the significance of this incident, [and] the threat to public safety. Emer­gency services responded to the incident, and the danger that Mr Barlow put himself at as a result of his actions.”

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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  1. joe johnson

    I really feel for him and his family at this time. I know it’s a very serious offence he’s committed and the court has to take action but he’s been only 16 with no previous convictions and has autism and mental health problems and needs help rather than being jailed. No one was injured and 3 years is very harsh. I remember a guy who in an assault on commercial street caused permanent damage to this guy he hit and he only got 1 year in jail! That is not justice and why has samuel barlow got 3 years when no one was injured. I really hope the appeal goes well.

  2. Scott clark

    Doesn’t seem fair when a lad at the same age in 2013 shot 8 kids at a school in Edinburgh with a air gun, has just been sentence to 200 hours community service.

  3. Keith Martin

    It must be a very testing time for Samuel and his family. I am not sure we can equally compare other cases as they do have different facts around them. However, with Samuel, there should have been more emphasis on helping him, and his family. Far more good would have happened if he were not sent to prison but community controls were put in place, yes, perhaps a suspended sentence as a deterrent. Sadly, for many, mental health is never addressed correctly in such cases. I would guess that those who were involved in the events that ended up in court would feel the same way upon reflection. You do have to congratulate the way they handled the case. I wish Paul and his family success in getting what is right for Samuel and I wish Samuel well and thoughts are with them at this time.

  4. iantinkler

    So very sad, psychiatric illness treated by prison. Secure psychiatric care and treatment should be the answer here. No one be in any doubt, an air rifle in the wrong hands can kill, and maim or blind. However sad this may seem, until this unhappy person is safe, secured and cured, prison may be the only answer (treatment would be preferable). Come on, our devolved NHS, what is happening under SNP psychiatric stewardship, not a vote winner perhaps.

    • paul barlow

      ian sam posses no risk normally. even after years of abuse he possed no risk it was only after 2 very evil sick people abused him that he became depressed and unstable. if you were to meet him today you would not believe it was the same lad. autism cant be cured what samuel needs is training in coping structures. if as a child sam had these he would never have offended. im pleased to say that the police will be visiting the first one in the next few days. i must say surreys police were a pleasant surprise after nearly a year of begging scottish police to invesigate . second one is also due a visit.

      autism is a very complex problem. roughly 1 in a 100 suffers some form of autistic problems. so 220 folks on shetland have this problem. autistic people are 10 times more likely to be involved with police mainly as victims of crime. yet shetland has little support in place. as we have found undiagnosed people suffer a lot more than a diagnosed suffer.

      as i said sam is a very likable lad normally. as are most autistic people. they can seem odd and strange but really they are coping in a strange world. we are struggling to learn fast as it seems 3 of sams sisters also may suffer from it. all 3 may i add are either in work or studying for a degree. sam needs shetland to know he is sorry. sam wrote to the press apologizing but neither were printed.

      below are the letters

      Samuel asked me to send the two letters to you. Ive left them as he wrote them. im sorry if they are difficult to understand. Samuel wanted to do this from the start but we were told to wait.

      To the driver of the white van on west loch. That I smashed the window of your van I am deeply sorry. I am willing to pay for the damage to your van when I am out. I hope you can forgive me.
      (Please contact my mum or dad with the details)
      Samuel barlow
      hMYOI polmont

      Dear Shetland
      I am sorry for the alarm I have carsed (caused) the people of scalloway and lerwick. I was not in a happy or enjoyable satet (state) of mind. Dew (due) to a long distance relationship what ended in sorrow and heart break. This effected my state of mind on the day of the incardent (incident).
      This incadent (incident) was as unenjoyable for me as (it was) for the people in Lerwick and Scalloway. And I hope for forgiveness from the people (effected).
      From Samuel barlow
      Hmyoi polmont.
      Please understand Samuel finds writing very difficult so please excuse the briefness of these apologies. Samuel will write to the police officers that he threatened privately.

      • joe johnson

        Mr.Barlow, I signed the online petition to have samuels case looked at again. My thoughts are with all your family at this difficult time. Really hope the appeal goes well. All the best to you all.

  5. iantinkler

    “sam posses no risk normally” Maybe that is true. What about under abnormal circumstance? Wold you put your sight at risk. Treatment is the answer here until Sam is no longer a risk to the public. Very sad that prison appears the only option, but simply no one forced Sam to threaten, however he may apologies, but under stress he may repeat his performance with far worse consequences.

    • paul barlow

      nobody poses no risk.
      ian you really do need to study up on autism. what you persieve as a threatening situation and yes when i saw the pictures i was shocked to. is in fact just a very different reaction from the norm mainly because an autistic person reacts to various pressures differently and believe me if you had inflicted on you what samuel had done to him its not surprising he was depressed and wanted to die. the autism just made it more dramatic.
      not being diagnosed just made him feel more different. now he knows why he thinks and feels different he is more at ease. depression acute anxiety and other similar problems are very common in autistic people.
      if you know a friend or another who has it ask them how it effects them. you will be very surprised. most diagnosed receive the support to prevent blowouts like sam had. however there are lots not diagnosed because of Shetlands systems not seeming interested in autistic people its a miracle more autistic folks up here have not killed themselves or maybe they have and no one knew .
      ian my purpose is not to debate sam with you. i recognise your right to believe sam needs locking up. to place an autistic person in a secure mental hospital would even be more cruel than prison. you would be sending him away for life as autism is not a curable condition.

      ty joe

    • Wayne Conroy

      It’s a real shame I cannot reply to you the way I wish to do so Mr Tinkler as it would not get published. Anyone is capable of anything while under abnormal stress… Does that mean we should lock everyone up just in case?

      As far as his sentence goes it is ridiculous that he has received the sentence he has – 3 years in jail was certainly not the answer as it will only make this poor lad more insecure and unsettled. If he had received proper treatment this unfortunate incident would never have happened. The system has let down this young lad… We can only hope that common sense prevails.