‘Provoked’ by drug smoking

Lanark Sheriff Court, Hope Street, Lanark
Lanark Sheriff Court, Hope Street, Lanark

A Forth man tried to blame his assault of a woman on the passive effects on him of her drug smoking.

However, this defence put to Lanark Sheriff Court on Thursday by 54-year-old Richard Jones was met with open derision by Sheriff Nikola Stewart.

Jones, of 3 Whauphill, was appearing for sentence deferred for background reports following his conviction for having assaulted Sharon Kennedy by striking her on the head at the Station Bed and Breakfast in Sandilands on September 16 last year.

He was also convicted of having, later on the same date, failed to provide a specimen of breath for testing at Lanark Police Station.

On Thursday Depute Fiscal Ziad Ul-Hassan outlined the circumstances of the case, saying that Jones and Ms Kennedy had been staying overnight at the B&B when, in a bedroom at around half-past-midnight, an argument broke out between them; Ms Kennedy attempted to leave the room but Jones then attacked her, punching her on the cheek and causing her to fall to the floor.

By this time her cries of “Help!” and screaming had alerted other occupants of the guesthouse; one rushed into the bedroom to see Ms Kennedy on the floor “cowering” with Jones standing over her.

On seeing a witness, Jones backed off from his victim who was then led out of the room, away from her assailant and to the safety of the kitchen. The fiscal described her as “shaking and obviously in a terrified state”.

Her attacker was then seen leaving the guesthouse, coming down the stairs from the bedroom “staggering from side to side, hitting off the wall and bannister.” He eventually went out a rear door to the car parking area, got into his car to drive off “although clearly unfit to drive”.

The police were contacted and intercepted him and took him to Lanark Police Station where he refused to co-operate with a breath test.

Referring to a report of a social work interview with Jones, Sheriff Stewart noted Jones claimed to have drunk just two vodkas that night and tried to blame his actions on the passive effects of heroin he alleged Ms Kennedy had been smoking in the room,

She commented acidly: “He punched her when he was drunk and now she is being accused of being a heroin addict!”

Even Jones’ own defence solicitor conceded: “I suppose there could have been some effect from the smoke but that is a new one on me.”

Sheriff Stewart dismissed Jones claims to social workers as “a minimisation portfolio”, placing him on a one year Community Payback Order, disqualified him from driving for a year and ordered he pay his victim £200 compensation,