Jail for man who attacked ‘sparked out’ woman

A man who sexually assaulted a woman who was “sparked out” in a diabetic episode has been jailed for three years and three months.

Ellis Birnie, formerly of Lerwick, preyed on the woman during a series of attacks in Shetland.

Edinburgh High Court heard the woman had been “almost comatose” due to high blood sugar when Birnie, 27, attacked her.

“I had come to enough to realise stuff was going on, but I was not fully alert, ” the 39-year-old woman said in pre-recorded evidence played to a jury at Birnie’s trial.

Birnie was also found guilty of sexually assaulting a second woman who was either asleep, intoxicated, or unable to give consent, in incidents between 1st February and 24th August, 2020.

Today (Friday), judge Lord Richardson told Birnie the only option available to him was prison. He also ordered him to be supervised for 18 months following his release from custody.

Passing sentence, Lord Richardson said Birnie’s victims were “clearly vulnerable” and that he “took advantage” of them.

He added: “Each of these women had to go through the ordeal of giving evidence against you. They are to be commended for coming forward and doing this.”

Birnie had denied a string of charges during his trial but was convicted of three offences in June, on majority verdicts by the jury.

He was found guilty of sexually assaulting his first victim on various occasions between 12th September and 3rd December, 2018, at an address in Sandveien and other locations in Shetland.

Birnie was also convicted of engaging in abusive behaviour towards the second woman in 2020.

Lord Richardson urged Birnie – who observed proceedings via video-link from prison – to rehabilitate himself.

He added: “I urge you to take advantage of all the opportunities and supervision that will be offered to you.”

If you have been affected by sexual violence, support is available. Contact The Compass Centre 9am-1.30pm Mon-Thurs on 01595 747 174 or email contact@compasscentre.org


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