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Stern warning for threatening sleeping woman

A LERWICK mechanic with drink and drugs problems has been warned to clean up his act or face a jail sentence after he threatened to hit a sleeping woman with a rock in her face.

At Lerwick Sheriff Court on Thursday, Sheriff Philip Mann told 29 year old Matthew Smith, of 7 Stanegarth, that he still had custody at the forefront of his mind when he deferred sentence for three months for “probably as bad a statutory breach of the peace as I am likely to come across”.

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The court heard that around 7am on 13 July, Smith had walked into a house on Lerwick’s Bruce Crescent where a group of women were sleeping after a hen night.

He woke one woman who had been asleep for just two hours on the sofa by placing his hand over her face.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said she woke to find him holding a rock against her cheek while holding her down with the other hand on her face, telling her to say nothing and demanding her mobile phone, which he took and placed in his pocket.

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“She asked him why he was there, his reply was that it doesn’t matter and ‘I will put this brick in your face’,” the fiscal said.

He then told her he was looking for a man who lived at the address but was unknown to the woman and her friends to discuss a drugs-related matter.

“She tried to say it had nothing to do with her, he said he didn’t want to hurt her but if he couldn’t find him he would.”

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The woman realised Smith was heavily under the influence of something when he stumbled, so she tripped him up and he fell onto a coffee table, smashing a glass the sound of which wakened her friends who turfed him out of the house and called the police.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said Smith had a long and troubled history with heroin addiction as a result of a destructive relationship he had been in, which had led to several court appearances and periods in jail.

He said that of late he had managed to stay clear of drugs, but had now developed a problem with alcohol.

“When he drinks he drinks too much and can’t control his behaviour and gets involved in stuff like this and can’t remember what he did,” Allan said.

However he insisted Smith had made great progress, was a valued and well-paid employee for a firm who had provided an unsolicited reference for the court.

He had also obtained his own tenancy, restored his relationship with his parents and managed to stay out of trouble for a long time.

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“Mr Smith has done a silly and a bad thing here. It must have been upsetting to the complainer, but Mr Smith has made a lot of progress and there is some cause for optimism here,” he said.

However Sheriff Mann issued Smith, who appeared in handcuffs after spending almost two weeks in custody, with a stern warning that he would definitely go to prison unless he showed he could be of good behaviour and addressed his problems with alcohol.

“This is probably as bad a Section 38 statutory breach of the peace as I am likely to come across,” he said.

“It would not only have been frightening, but terrifying for the woman concerned to be confronted by you holding a rock against her face; it is something that really calls for a custodial sentence.

“I have to say I am on the cusp of just sending you to custody.”

He said that if Smith behaved himself over the next three months he could still expect to face a substantial compensation order, a community-based sentence such as voluntary work as well as a “very stiff” fine.

“Don’t go out of here thinking I am being soft here – I am not being soft, it’s just by deferring sentence it might work out better for everyone rather than sending you back to jail, but I am quite prepared to do that if I have to.”

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