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Man jailed after ferry rampages

A FORMER heroin addict living on the Shetland isle of Yell has been jailed for 10 months after running rampage on two ferries and assaulting crew and passengers while high on drugs and alcohol.

On Thursday 37 year old Darren Gear, of Chalet 2, Ulsta, admitted a string of assault and breach of the peace charges on board the NorthLink ferry Hjaltland as it sailed from Aberdeen to Lerwick on 6 January this year.

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He also admitted causing a breach of the peace and vandalising the Yell ferry Daggri three weeks later on 27 January.

Lerwick Sheriff Court heard trouble started on the Hjaltland when Gear approached a 16 year old boy and started to be aggressive, following him around the boat, shouting, swearing and threatening to punch him.

When a female passenger he knew intervened, Gear grabbed her and pulled her hair.

The boy ran off for help and when a security guard turned up Gear grabbed a bottle by the neck, lifted it above his shoulder and swung it at him.

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He missed, but knocked the guard’s radio out of his hand as he tried to call for help and it was only when more crew and even the ship’s captain turned up that he was restrained and placed in a cabin for the rest of the journey, during which he made various threats to kill crew members.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said: “Clearly this was a very serious incident to have someone rampaging like that in a confined space, a vessel at sea. Normal, decent people should not have to put up with something like that.”

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Three weeks later Gear was on the Yell ferry Daggri when he started shouting and swearing and threatened to bite crew members when they approached him.

The crew restrained him and locked him in a lift, where he pulled a telephone off the wall and smashed it up.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said on the first occasion Gear had taken sea sickness tablets on top of his heroin substitute suboxone and then started drinking, as a result of which he could remember nothing of what happened.

He also had no memory of the Daggri incident when he had drunk a bottle of Jack Daniels bourbon on top of anti-depressants.

Now he has stopped taking all heroin substitutes and drinking alcohol, but was still on anti-depressants, the lawyer argued as a reason to keep him out of jail.

Jailing him for 10 months, Sheriff Philip Mann said they were very serious offences because they compromised the safety of the vessel and its passengers.

“It’s a matter of grave concern when disturbances of this nature occur on vessels because people on these vessels are really captive audiences and they should not be exposed to that kind of behaviour and danger,” he said.

Gear has also been banned from all NorthLink ferries for the next four and a half years.

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