‘Walking breach of the peace’ jailed after making neighbours’ lives a misery

A 38-year-old “walking breach of the peace” has been jailed for seven months after making her neighbours’ lives a “misery”.

Sarah Irvine was led out of Lerwick Sheriff Court in tears today (Wednesday) after being handed a custodial sentence.

She admitted to threatening behaviour on a public bus and failing to comply with a bail order not to contact one of the complainers from that offence.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said Irvine boarded the bus at around 2pm on 7th March, along with two of her neighbours from Hill Grind, Lerwick,

Although Irvine’s neighbours tried to avoid her, Mr MacKenzie said the accused, who was intoxicated, approached them and behaved in a “belligerent, aggressive and intimidating” manner.

The fiscal said Irvine was “stumbling around the bus” making unpleasant remarks about her neighbours and a man they were sitting with.

Mr MacKenzie said Irvine pointed to one of the complainers and told her, in an “aggressive” tone: “You are next, I promise you, you are fucking next”.

“Both complainers were considerably alarmed by the accused’s behaviour,” Mr MacKenzie added.

“They are near neighbours of hers and it goes without saying she was making their lives a misery.

“I think she had only been released from prison for about three weeks.”

Irvine was arrested, taken into custody and appeared before the court where she was released on bail.

But she breached her bail conditions just a few days later when she contacted one of the neighbours she had threatened on the bus.

Mr MacKenzie said it happened at around 6pm on 11th March when the complainer was at home with her partner and two young children.

The court heard they were alerted by their daughter crying because she had seen Irvine, whom she is afraid of, knocking on the window.

The fiscal said the accused was holding a box in her hand “saying something inaudible” to the complainer.

Irvine eventually left and was arrested a short time later.

Defence agent Tommy Allan acknowledged the sheriff would be familiar with his client who has been before the court many times before.

Without wishing to be disrespectful to his client, Mr Allan described her when drinking as a “walking breach of the peace” – saying she was loud and did not listen.

“You can imagine being on a bus with her when she has been drinking would be a nightmare,” he said.

While acknowledging Irvine’s behaviour had been a breach of the peace, Mr Allan said some of her comments had been directed at another woman who shared the same name as one of the complainers. 

He said the alleged threat had actually been uttered in concern about the company one of the complainers’ was keeping.

And he claimed the breach of bail had been carried out because she was trying to hand over a box of jewellery which she hoped the complainer would give to Irvine’s daughter, whom she had fallen out with.

Mr Allan said Irvine had ADHD, PTSD and had recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

He said she took medication for her conditions, which she also “supplemented with drugs of her own choice”.

The defence agent said this had “not been a success” and had resulted in her repeatedly being brought before the court.

Mr Allan said his client was facing “struggles that are not of her choosing”.

“She is fed up with this type of existence and wants to move away from it,” he added.

Sheriff Ian Cruickshank said had tried “everything possible” not to send Irvine to prison.

“You have to take responsibility,” he said. “I can do no more.”

He jailed Irvine for seven months backdated to 12th March when she was first remandd in custody.

Sheriff Cruickshank also imposed a 12-month non-harassment order preventing Irvine from contacting the two complainers from the bus.


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