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Town centre fight with tragic consequences

A YOUNG Shetland man is likely to be sent to jail following a fight in Lerwick’s town centre that ended in tragedy and left his victim physically and mentally disabled.

On Monday, 22-year old Liam Cromwell pled guilty to a charge of assaulting his victim to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and to the danger of his life, aggravated by religious prejudice, at Commercial Street and Burns Walk, on 10 August last year.

Lerwick Sheriff Court heard that Cromwell’s victim’s life was only saved thanks to emergency surgery carried out at the Gilbert Bain Hospital. He was then airlifted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said the young man had been in hospital ever since and would need “constant and daily care for the rest of his life”.

He said these tragic consequences were resulting from a sort of incident “we see all too often at this court” whereby young men get themselves involved in low-level violence and had no control over the outcome.

“It exemplifies the stupidity and futility of such conduct and certainly exemplifies the desperate consequences that can follow,” Mackenzie continued.

On the night in question two groups of friends were exchanging insults over “two large Glasgow football teams”.

The court heard that it was the complainer who had lashed out at Cromwell first.

The fiscal said Cromwell “simply did not have the maturity to walk away… his pride was slighted so he had to respond in kind”.

His victim stumbled, fell forward and hit the ground with “a significant degree of force” and without putting his hands out to break the fall.

Mackenzie said that it may well be that the victim was unconscious before he hit the ground.

However, the “catastrophic” consequences came from the contact with the hard ground as opposed to the force of the punch.

Cromwell, with a bail address of 61 King Fisher Drive, Inverurie, initially ran away from the scene but handed himself in to police shortly afterwards.

Defence solicitor Ian Warburton told the court that Cromwell and his family were horrified by the consequences of his actions.

Warburton said they had indicated they were mindful of the importance of compensating the victim and his family.

He asked sheriff Philip Mann for bail to be continued and the condition for him to stay away from Shetland apart from court appearances to be lifted.

Deferring sentence until 18 September for social inquiry reports, Sheriff Mann told Cromwell that there was a very “high possibility” that he would be sent to jail.

He added: “This is a very serious charge you are facing, not because of the force used, but because of the tragic and life-changing consequences of that blow.”