Sheriff gives ‘absolute menace’ another chance

An “absolute menace” who forced traffic to stop and threatened to kill himself has been spared a custodial sentence at Lerwick Sheriff Court.

But Nathan Hilditch has instead been ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work within nine months, and placed under a one year supervision order.

Hilditch, 20, of Horseshoe Close, Virkie, previously admitted repeatedly stepping in front of traffic on Commercial Street, forcing drivers to come to a halt and threatening to kill himself on 22nd December.

He also pleaded guilty to behaving in a threatening or abusive manner, banging on doors and windows and entering a private house at Summerside in Virkie on 9th January.

A separate charge was that he smashed two windows in the house – for which he was ordered to stump up £300 in compensation.

On 4th February he again be­haved in a threaten­ing or abusive manner, this time in Commercial Road, Lerwick, where he opened a car door and asked the occupants, who were strangers, about their religious beliefs. His behaviour caused a child in the car to cry.

He also obstructed police officers who responded, and resisted arrest.

Sentence had been deferred until Wednesday for background reports. Hilditch is well known to the court after last year repeatedly making nuisance 999 calls to the police.

In court this week, defence agent Tommy Allan said Hilditch was in employment and, if at liberty, could keep his job – assuming he “keeps his nose clean”.

He said Hilditch had spoken about his “shame and embarrassment” and had demonstrated remorse for his offending.

Mr Allan urged the sheriff to accept a background report as “positive”. He said it showed Hilditch had “engaged exceptionally well” while under supervision.

“It is significant that he would appear, since 4th February, to have stayed out of trouble. Clearly that’s because he has not been drinking since that time,” the defence agent said, adding there was “some room for optimism”.

The court heard Hilditch had felt “enormous pressure” knowing he could land in jail for his behaviour.

“It’s his view he doesn’t belong there,” said Mr Allan.

He said Hilditch was now free of alcohol and working, while being honest about his situation with his employer.

Sheriff Philip Mann told Hilditch: “I do think the report is positive, but you’ve got to understand that you are more than a nuisance – you are an absolute menace.

“At one point you were troubling the court because of your 999 calls to the police on a frequent and regular basis.

That ended up with you serving two custodial sentences. You have substituted this kind of behaviour for that 999 behaviour. It’s taking an incredible amount of time for the penny to drop.

“If the penny doesn’t drop you’re going to continue on a career of being a serial prisoner.”

The sheriff said he was prepared to give Hilditch another chance. Custody, he said, would not necessarily be of any benefit, either to Hilditch, or the wider society.

“I sincerely hope this will be the time you take a tumble to yourself, because I don’t really want to see you back in court again.”


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