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Court / Jail term for assaulting pregnant partner

A MAN who struck his partner on the head while she was heavily pregnant before later brandishing a knife has been sent to prison for 16 months.

John Hutcheson, whose address was given as Grampian Prison, appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court from custody on Monday to admit two charges.

Sentencing the 28-year-old, Sheriff Ian Cruickshank said “abuse in a relationship is absolutely abhorrent”.

Hutcheson admitted assaulting the woman at an address in Lerwick on 26 February by striking her on the head to her injury.

He also pleaded guilty to shouting, swearing, behaving aggressively and brandishing a knife at the same location and on the same date.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said the complainer was eight and a half months pregnant at the time.

He said Hutcheson attended the address at 5.30pm and was “clearly under the influence of some sort of substance”.

An argument ensued and he ended up striking her on the face, with Hutcheson “acting like he was possessed”.

Family members on the Scottish mainland then contacted the complainer via a video call, with the “distressed” woman displaying bruising and swelling on the face.

The family members on the line then asked for assistance in Shetland, with a man attending the address and meeting the complainer.

Hutcheson was found upstairs in the house in bed and when he was awoken he was “instantly aggressive, shouting and swearing”, the fiscal said.

Attempts by the complainer to defuse the situation failed and they moved downstairs where Hutcheson grabbed a kitchen knife with an eight inch blade from a worktop.

The court heard that he was asked to leave by the man, and when he did he ended up striking the door from the other side with the knife, breaking it from its handle.

Hutcheson left the address and a family member on the Scottish mainland alerted the police with officers arriving on the scene quickly.

Mackenzie said the police were “extremely concerned about the welfare” of the complainer and her baby.

“They took her to the hospital for a check-up which fortunately showed no harm to the unborn child,” he said.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said his client had become upset after missing a social work appointment and “fell in with old friends” before taking drink and “other things”.

The solicitor said Hutcheson felt “ashamed” when he saw his partner’s face after the assault.

“When he’s clean and sober, he’s considered to be a good dad,” the solicitor added.

Allan said that Hutcheson’s partner, who had written a letter for Sheriff Ian Cruickshank to read, was keen to continue the relationship.

While he admitted a custodial sentence was likely, the solicitor encouraged Sheriff Cruickshank to consider a drug treatment and testing order alongside a community payback order.

The sheriff adjourned the case to read the letter and upon his return he said Hutcheson’s behaviour was “horrendous”.

He said in all relationships each person should be “loved, respected and safe”.

“Quite clearly it caused your partner substantial distress,” Sheriff Cruickshank added.

Hutcheson was given a total of 16 months in prison, with the sentence backdated to when he first entered custody on 27 February.

Sheriff Cruickshank said that “by the smallest margin” he decided against imposing a non-harassment order due to the fact that the complainer wanted to continue the relationship.