Jail for man who disfigured friend in ‘act of barbarism’ 

A 48-year-old man who amputated his friend’s finger using a claw hammer and filleting knife has been jailed for 32 months.

John Johnson, from East Voe, Scalloway, admitted permanently disfiguring his victim last month and was back before the court for sentencing on Wednesday.

Sheriff Ian Cruickshank said the Crown’s narration of the attack, carried out last November, had been “both graphic and gruesome”.

“To put it in simple terms you amputated another man’s finger using a filleting knife and claw hammer,” he said.

“You told the complainer that you had to do it to make an example of him for his failure to repay a debt to you.

“Your actions were premeditated and the severity of the assault places the offence at the highest end of what can be dealt with at the sheriff court level.”

Sheriff Cruickshank noted the physical and psychological harm inflicted had been “significant and irreversible”.

Defence agent Tommy Allan acknowledged his client was “under no illusion of the seriousness of the offence” and understood the sheriff held “considerable power to deal with the matter in the most severe manner”.

He appealed to the sheriff to take into account Johnson’s behaviour since the offence, which has seen him seek help for his alcoholism in Castle Craig Hospital, together with the the remorse he has shown.

Mr Allan said Johnson’s life had been “blighted” by the abuse he suffered as a young man, which had seen him turn to alcohol.

Referring to reports provided to the court, he said Johnson had been found to be an “intelligent and articulate individual with a wide range of skills”.

The reports also noted all his offending had happened when intoxicated.

“When he is not drinking he can be a valuable member of society, he has much to contribute, and he would like to see himself in a position where he is able to do that,” Mr Allan added.

Sheriff Cruickshank accepted Johnson’s alcohol reliance at the time of the attack had been “extremely high”.

He said Johnson could have been looking at as much as five years in jail.

Taking into account his “past and present circumstances”, however, the sheriff arrived at a “headline sentence” of four years, which he discounted to 32 months, taking into account the timing of the plea.

The court previously heard the victim, who has learning difficulties, was left with “just a stump” after attempts to reattach his finger failed.

The attack happened after Johnson arrived at the home of a friend in Scalloway carrying a samurai sword and rope noose.

Johnson 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 took a filleting knife from his pocket and held the man’s hand down in the sink, then placed the knife on the man’s left pinkie and used the claw hammer to strike it repeatedly.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie called it an “act of barbarism”.


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