Original article no longer available
The Inverness Courier
At Inverness Sheriff Court on Tuesday, 24-year-old Shaun Harkness, of Birchwood Place, Inverness, pled guilty to assaulting George Mackenzie by repeatedly punching him on the head and striking him on the neck with a sharp instrument, to his injury and permanent disfigurement on January 1 last year.
The court heard Harkness, who has no previous convictions for violence, “saw red” when an unknown man started a fight with a friend of his.
Procurator Fiscal Alexander Collie said the victim was taken to Raigmore Hospital, where he was admitted to theatre for “exploration of the injury to his neck”.
Mr Collie added that the victim had a 5cm laceration to the left side of his neck, which was close to a major blood vessel and required eight stitches.
He said: “I would add that doctors did say if the wound had been one or two centimetres deeper, it would have been far more serious.”
Defence solicitor William Young told the court that Harkness himself had been the victim of a very serious knife crime incident in 2007 when he was stabbed in a street brawl.
Harkness had been suffering from depression due to the incident, and had been on medication from his doctor, according to the solicitor.
He said: “He had taken alcohol on top of the prescribed medication on the night of the assault, which he now sees to be not the best of moves.”
Mr Young said Harkness had been in employment until six months ago but his physical health had started to deteriorate. He regularly suffers shortness of breath and is attending hospital for lung capacity testing.
Sheriff Andrew Berry warned Harkness: “This is a very serious matter. You have assaulted someone on the neck with a very sharp instrument. And there by the grace of god the injury could have been much worse, even fatal.”
He deferred sentence for two weeks to allow for a social worker to assess if a restriction of liberty order could be applicable to Harkness.
Sheriff Berry made it clear that prison was still a possibility and he was simply exploring all the options in this case.