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Hilditch sentence deferred

A MAN from Lerwick who assaulted a policeman before behaving in threatening manner as he was being taken to the town’s police station will learn his punishment in February.

Nathan Hilditch, of Ladies Drive, appeared from custody at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday to plead guilty to assaulting the officer on 20 August by seizing him by the clothing and attempting to pull him to the ground at Ladies Drive.

The 21 year old also admitted repeatedly shouting and swearing, repeatedly kicking the inside of a police vehicle and as well as struggling with police officers on the same date, both at Ladies Drive and while en route to Lerwick Police Station.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said police received a number of 999 calls relating to an ongoing disturbance at a house.

However, when officers arrived at the property the incident had stopped, with Hilditch found inside the house “drunk”.

He “didn’t take the advice to go home” and grabbed an officer before attempting to push him to the ground. Hilditch was restrained and arrested.

Sheriff Philip Mann used the case to comment on the local reaction to Hilditch’s last appearance in the dock on 28 September, for which he is serving an eight-month jail term.

The decision to imprison Hilditch attracted criticism from various quarters. But the sheriff said it was “wholly inappropriate” for anyone connected with the local press to “diagnose” Hilditch with a mental illness through their own comment when he had not actually been formally psychologically assessed.

He said it was “wholly inappropriate” for anyone writing in the local press to “diagnose” Hilditch with a mental illness through their own comment when he had not actually been formally psychologically assessed.

The sheriff added that whoever is ruling from the bench in the court is not a “social worker or psychiatrist” and has to deal purely with the information and facts given in court.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said his client was “surprised” to learn of the attention surrounding his last appearance and that he has “by in large” accepted his wrongdoings in the past by pleading guilty to offences.

Sheriff Mann asked Hilditch directly if he felt he had been treated fairly by the court, with the man in the dock ultimately agreeing.

However, Hilditch felt he would benefit from being psychologically assessed because he had not been examined before.

Allan reiterated that social work reports suggested Hilditch had problems with his upbringing, with the solicitor suggesting that his past behaviour had been “designed to get a response”.

Allan added that his client feels he “doesn’t belong in prison” because his character isn’t one that which is suited to the jail environment.

Sheriff Mann decide to defer sentence until 15 February when Hilditch will reappear in court on another matter.

He said the time in between will be used to look at “all” the information on Hilditch, with further reports to be prepared. The 21 year old’s behaviour in custody will also be assessed.