Offender warned he must do unpaid work or face prison over Christmas

A Lerwick man has been warned he could be locked up over Christmas if he keeps failing to show up for unpaid work.

Ross Sutherland, 33, of Hoofields, was given a further four weeks to show he could comply with his community payback order when he appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court today (Wednesday).

Sutherland had been sentenced to 180 hours of unpaid work in March after pleading guilty to stealing almost £3,500 using two debit cards he had taken from his partner’s family.

At the earlier hearing, the court was told Sutherland was struggling with “problematic drug use”.

He was warned at the time the offence could have warranted a custodial sentence.

Having not shown up for some of his unpaid work sessions, Sutherland had been brought back before the court last month, when he was again reminded of the prospect of prison.

On Wednesday, Sheriff Ian Cruickshank noted that while Sutherland’s engagement with the programme had improved, it was only by a “marginal” amount.

He said there were still “numerous occasions” when Sutherland had failed to attend.

Sheriff Cruickshank said it was still hoped Sutherland would engage better if given further opportunities, despite the “limited evidence” of having done that so far.

Sutherland claimed he had been late rather than failing to show. He also said he was due to meet a new substance misuse officer tomorrow to agree a plan.

Sheriff Cruickshank continued the matter for a further four weeks, and hoped it would encourage Sutherland to ensure his next report was an improvement.

“You are aware that the alternative is a custodial sentence and a custodial sentence at Christmas is not pleasant,” he said.

“Don’t force me to do that.”



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