Man used hammer and knife to cut off vulnerable friend’s finger

Warning: This story contains some graphic details.

A vulnerable man had his pinkie finger cut off by a friend who wanted to “make an example of him” after accusing him of stealing.

John Andrew Johnson, from East Voe, Scalloway, admitted severing the man’s finger to his permanent disfigurement at another friend’s home on the 3rd or 4th November last year.

Johnson placed a knife on the finger of the man, who was described as being vulnerable, and repeatedly hit it with a claw hammer.

Lerwick Sheriff Court heard on Wednesday that the victim had been drinking at a friend’s house on the night of the incident, when they called Johnson – a mutual friend – to come over too.

The 48-year-old arrived with a samurai sword and a rope noose, procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said.

Johnson later took the victim through to the kitchen and told him he was going to cut off his hand as punishment for failing to pay off debts he owed to him.

He took a filleting knife and held the man’s hand down in the sink.

Mr MacKenzie said the victim “didn’t offer any resistance”, and later said that Johnson “had to make an example of me”.

After he severed the finger Johnson offered the man a cloth to stem the flow of blood.

The home-owner then came through to see the severed finger lying on his kitchen floor, and immediately placed it in a carrier bag of ice in the freezer before calling an ambulance.

On the way to hospital, the victim told paramedics that Johnson had cut off his finger.

Johnson was arrested at the Gilbert Bain Hospital, and told police: “I chopped a finger off with a knife and a hammer.

“He asked me to do it, I had to make an example of him.”

When later questioned by police after being charged, Johnson said it was the “only way he was going to learn”.

Mr MacKenzie called the incident an “act of barbarism”, while Sheriff Ian Cruickshank said this was “an assault of an incredibly serious nature”.

The sheriff said cases of “intentional bodily mutilation” do not frequently come before the sheriff court.

He deferred sentencing for the preparation of background reports, but warned Johnson that he faces a lengthy jail sentence.


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