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Court / Prison term for ‘unacceptable and unprovoked’ assault

A LOCAL man who assaulted his partner in the early hours of Up Helly Aa night at an address in Lerwick has been given a prison sentence.

Barry Coutts, whose address was given as no fixed abode, was handed a five-month prison sentence when he appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court from custody via video link on Wednesday.

The 27-year-old previously admitted assaulting his then partner on 31 January by lunging towards her and repeatedly punching her on the head to her injury.

He also previously pleaded guilty to breaching a community payback order which had been imposed for a similar offence at the end of last year.

The court previously heard how an argument between Coutts and his partner developed over accusations of infidelity after they attended the property following a night out.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie described how Coutts had become “extremely angry”, launched across the room and punched her in the face.

The woman was bleeding heavily and when she tried standing up she fell back on to the couch she had been sitting on.

It was said that Coutts laughed at her and then punched her again several times before he was pulled off by another person and thrown out.

The woman was then taken to hospital for treatment to her injuries.

Speaking at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday, defence solicitor Gregor Kelly said the court had a “stark choice” to make around whether to impose a custodial sentence.

Coutts was remanded in February after pleading to the charges, and Kelly said this period behind bars had allowed his client to reflect on his behaviour with “sober reflection”.

He said Coutts was “deeply shocked and ashamed” by his conduct and was planning to move away from Shetland to make a fresh start in life.

Sheriff Ian Cruickshank said in his view there was no alternative to custody.

He said it was a “totally unacceptable and unprovoked assault”.

Coutts’ prison term will be backdated to 14 February when he first entered custody. A three-year non-harassment order was also imposed.

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