A man who launched a vicious assault against a defenceless victim was spared a prison sentence this week after a sheriff was told he needed to look after his mother.
Instead, Gordon Keith, 46, of Meadowfield Crescent in Scalloway, was ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work – the maximum level that can be imposed.
Keith previously admitted attacking his 59-year-old victim at an address in the village last September.
The emergency services were called after the man was spotted by a passer-by. The victim was taken to hospital, where he was kept overnight.
Lerwick Sheriff Court previously heard the complainer had said something “innocuous” that Keith had taken exception to.
Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie had described the attack as a “vicious assault” against the “defenceless” man, who had lain obviously injured with his head on a sofa after the attack. Sentence had been deferred for background reports to be compiled.
At Wednesday’s court, sheriff Philip Mann was handed references in support of Keith.
Defence agent Tommy Allan also handed him a letter from Keith’s victim, adding it appeared to suggest the complainer had forgiven him for the offence.
“He’s apologised to the complainer and it would seem from the letter that the complainer has accepted that apology,” Mr Allan said.
The agent highlighted the social work report which stated Keith was relied upon by his mother. He argued imposing an alternative to custody would mean Keith could make some reparation to the community and still be able to provide assistance to her.
“You’ll see he has a very lengthy record. He is someone who, at one point, was a fairly regular visitor to this building, but his situation has improved in recent years,” said Mr Allan.
“There is scope to deal with Mr Keith without using the powers the court has to put him in prison. He is very much aware that that could be the disposal today.”
The sheriff admitted his mind was swayed at the last moment.
“There is no doubt at all this offence, coupled with your record, could amply merit a custodial sentence, and it is something I have very seriously considered,” he told Keith.
“Before coming on to the bench today, that was probably my provisional intention. However, having regard to what’s been said on your behalf I’m persuaded I can give you an opportunity here, but it is one you’ve got to grasp.”
He allowed Keith one year in which to complete the hours of work