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Footballer behind bars for vicious attack

A YOUNG Shetland footballer was jailed for 12 months after pleading guilty to a vicious unprovoked assault on a team mate when he appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday.

John Hutcheson, of 53 Leaside, Mossbank, was told the attack was so violent he was lucky not to be appearing in the High Court on a much more serious charge.

The court heard that the 21 year old had joined his fellow footballers at a drinking party after the Mossbank team’s annual prize giving celebrations on 10 September last year.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said that Hutcheson was well known for turning violent when drunk, and when he left the party chatting with a friend at 4am some were concerned and followed behind.

Shortly afterwards they heard scuffling and shouting, and when they ran to the scene they found his victim lying curled up on the ground while Hutcheson stamped on his head and body.

They managed to restrain him three times, and each time he escaped to continue his attack. At one point, the fiscal said, he carried out a flying scissors kick to the man’s head “as if he was kicking a football in the air”.

The assault ended when Hutcheson tired, while his friends tried to calm him down, saying he was in danger of killing his victim.

When another team mate took the injured man to a nearby house and told Hutcheson to go, the drunken footballer spat in his face.

Mr Mackenzie said the man was lucky to have nothing more serious than swelling, bruising and cuts to face, head and arms. “It’s almost incredible his injuries were not more serious,” he said.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said Hutcheson did not seek to minimise what he had done, and that he was ashamed and wanted to apologise to the friend he had now lost.

Mr Allan added that his client had suffered violence during his childhood and was finally facing up to this instead of “burying his head in drink or any other diversion”, producing a reference from his employer and a doctor’s letter confirming he was seeking help.

He told the court: “What you are left with is a man who has faced up to his failings and what he did wrong here.”

However Sheriff Philip Mann dismissed the defence plea for a community disposal. “This was a horrendous attack and on the basis of what I have heard seems to have been utterly unprovoked.

“It was vicious, it was sustained and it was repeated and it is clear to me that you are extremely fortunate that you are appearing in this court and not another court, because assaults of this nature can so easily lead to serious injury and perhaps even death.”

The sheriff said Hutcheson had in the past been given opportunities to deal with his issues and he would be failing in his public duty if he allowed him his liberty.

He said Hutcheson posed such a risk, that when he is released he will be supervised for four months during which he will be placed under curfew between 9pm and 7am, banned from drinking in public and from setting foot on licensed premises.