A Sandwick man will spend Christmas behind bars after a Sheriff issued a staunch warning that offenders breaching bail must face the consequences.
Steven Alan Nicholson, 33, of Veester Hill, was sentenced to 90 days imprisonment today (Tuesday) after admitting breaching bail conditions for a second time – barely a week after he had been fined for the same offence.
Sheriff Ian Cruickshank said it had become “increasingly obvious” too many people freed on bail had “little or no intention” of abiding by the conditions.
Nicholson had been granted bail in a separate case on 4th December with the special condition that he must not contact the complainant in the case.
However, he appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court on 14th December having breached that condition.
Sheriff Cruickshank said the fine imposed after the first breach had clearly acted as “no deterrent whatsoever”.
He said there was no alternative but to impose a custodial sentence.
“The time has come when, in order to punish you, you will go into custody,” he said.
“It’s also to send a message that if individuals breach bail conditions in the absence of a reasonable excuse there will be consequences.
“Breaching bail will no longer be tolerated.”
Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said the breach was identified when police officers attended his home to carry out a bail check.
He said the complainant, whom Nicholson must not contact, opened the door and asked the officers to wait. The officers, looking through a window, saw Nicholson and the complainant together, the court heard.
When the complainant returned to the door, however, she told the officers Nicholson was not present and invited them to look.
Mr Mackenzie said Nicholson was found hiding behind a panel in his attic.
He said it was “no misunderstanding” it was a “clear, wilful” breach.
Defence agent Tommy Allan said the previous breach was made after his client had been invited to the complainant’s house.
He said the subsequent breach happened when she took a taxi to Nicholson’s house and knocked on his door.
Mr Allan said the complainant could be “volatile” at times, and his client had let her in to avoid a disturbance in front of his neighbours.
“The right thing to have done would have been to not let her in and then, if she did make a disturbance, to phone the police,” Mr Allan said,
“But he didn’t do that.”
He said the complainant had arrived just 10 minutes before the police came to do their bail check.
Although Mr Allan said Nicholson knew it was wrong to let the complainant in, he suggested it was not the same as having invited himself into her house.
He said his client had been in custody since Sunday and that will have helped “cement the notion that bail orders must be adhered to”.
Mr Allan also acknowledged Nicholson faced the prospect of letting down his parents who had planned to spend Christmas Day with him.
He said Nicholson’s mother was in poor health and had cancelled a scan in Aberdeen, as her son would have normally accompanied her on the visit.
Mr Allan also said an application to change the bail conditions was before the court. He appealed to the Sheriff to grant that application and allow Nicholson to remain free until the diet on 28th January, when the substantive hearing, for which he had been on bail, is due to be heard.
Sheriff Cruickshank refused the application to change the bail conditions. He also said he did not accept Nicholson’s account of how the complainant had come to be at his house just a short time before the police arrived.
The 90 days sentence was backdated to start from Monday.