18th October 2018
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Jail for man who threatened to kill himself then assaulted police

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A man who struggled with and assaulted police at the Knab in Lerwick, after threatening to kill himself, has been imprisoned for eight months.Nathan Hilditch, 21, appeared from custody at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday. He had earlier admitted three charges of assault which took place on 4th September.

The court heard that Hilditch, who has a history of making hundreds of bogus emergency calls to the police, phoned 999 at 3.50am, threatening suicide, but not saying where he was.

After police had been searching for Hilditch for 45 minutes, he called the control room and said that he was at the Knab.

Two police officers found him near the cliff edge, drunk and upset and standing on wet slippery grass.

Hilditch refused to be coaxed back behind the stone wall around the Knab and struggled violently when the officers managed to get hold of him, trying to drag them towards the cliff.

After being handcuffed and leg restraints being put on him, Hilditch continued to struggle and kick out. As the officers dragged him along the path, Hilditch dropped his entire body weight, causing a police sergeant to fall and seriously injure his leg.

More help was summoned and two more officers came to the scene and Hilditch continued to struggle, repeatedly kicking one on the leg and trying to scratch him. The officers resorted to carrying him along the path and at that point Hilditch bit one on the hand but did not break the skin.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said that a police sergeant had sustained a badly damaged calf muscle and had been off work as a result of the injury.

He described the offences as an “escalation of his [Hilditch’s] monotonous attention seeking behaviour,” and said that while Hilditch’s social work report blamed “all sorts of personal problems” for his difficulties, the one simple cause of his behaviour was his drinking

Tommy Allan, defending Hilditch, said more was starting to emerge from his social work reports.

He said that Hilditch’s behaviour was that he got drunk, phoned the police and ended in trouble and it was “some sort of cry for help”. As far as his alcohol addiction went, “what lay behind that?” asked Mr Allan.

He said that his rate of offending was slowing down and he was coming to police attention less often.

Sheriff Philip Mann said that Hilditch’s latest offence was “very serious”. He said he had given him as much slack as he could as he sympathised with young people who struggled with their conduct. “Drink is a demon,” he said, and it was “one thing in society that seems to cause much difficulty for so many people”.

The sheriff said that many things had been tried with Hilditch and that he had little confidence he would comply with a community payback order. He said that there was no alternative to a custodial sentence for the three charges and that he would have given him the maximum sentence of one-year for a summary matter if not for Hilditch’s early plea, so he reduced the sentence by a third and backdated it until 5th September.

Sheriff Mann also revoked a community payback that had been imposed on Hilditch and ordered him to return to court in four months and two weeks for that to be dealt with.