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Thurso woman warned to mend her ways 'pronto' or face 'significant' prison time, sheriff warns her at Wick Sheriff Court

By Ali Morrison

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Wick Sheriff Court.
Wick Sheriff Court.

A THURSO woman has been warned that a prison sentence will be “staring her in the face” if she doesn’t mend her ways.

Sheriff Lindsay Foulis laid down the law to Bridie Nicolson facing charges of police assault, abusive behaviour, and reset.

He told the 22-year-old who admitted the offences: “I am not mucking about. You either change your ways, pronto... or you will be going to custody for a significant period.”

The offences occurred in March, May and June this year, mainly in Janet Street, Thurso, where Nicolson lives.

Wick Sheriff Court heard that three police officers were assaulted during that period. One was bitten and two others were kicked. In one of the assaults Nicolson pushed her feet forward from the rear seat of a police vehicle bound for the police station and struck the driver, Constable Stephen Todd, at the wheel.

However, Fiscal David Barclay said that he managed to keep control of the vehicle and avoid a potential accident.

In another incident, the accused shouted and swore at officers threatening their families saying she would “kick their heads in”.

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Turning to the reset offence, Mr Barclay said that police officers investigating the theft of alcohol from the Thurso’s Lidl branch visited “a particular house” in the town. They found Nicolson with a quantity of the alcohol which was identified as some of the items stolen from the store.

The fiscal said: “It appeared that the accused and others in the premises were about to start consuming the alcohol.”

Nicolson was previously given a community payback order for reset, but subsequently breached it.

Her solicitor, Ian Breckany described Nicolson as “a vulnerable person with issues going back a few years”.

He said she wanted to stop the sort of behaviour that had been repeatedly landing her in court. Social workers were keen to work with her.

Mr Breckany said: “Her main problem is that she mixes with the wrong company”.

He said he appreciated that the sheriff might take the view that Nicolson had reached “the custody threshold” but appealed to him to give her an opportunity to “stop her revolving door of offending” and consider an alternative to prison.

Sheriff Foulis revealed he had a prison sentence in mind prior to coming onto the bench. However, he said he was duty bound to consider the current sentencing principles for persons under the age of 25 and had taken account of a background report and what had been said on the accused’s behalf.

The sheriff told Nicolson: “Part of your problem is that you don’t take the position you find yourself, seriously.” Then he proceeded to take her to task.

Sheriff Foulis said: “Let’s not beat about the bush. You are staring at a significant prison sentence. In fact, when I read your case papers before coming onto the bench that was where I was going. In addition, when I heard the narration of the offences from the fiscal I had the appropriate months for the offences worked out. It is only the sentencing options for an accused of a young age that I have been directed to mitigation.”

The sheriff went on: “Don’t be smart. Don’t think this is a laugh and that the sheriff court is about a guy in a funny wig and gown who is a soft touch and you can pull the wool over his eyes.

"You may not be as mature as some 22-year-olds who shove illicit substances down their throats and behave like you did but other people have to put up with it and clear up the mess. However, having considered everything, I am persuaded not to sent you to prison. That could well be postponed but I am not going to do it today.”

Sheriff Foulis revoked the community pay back order imposed on the reset offence Nicolson breached and put a fresh order in place. It will make Nicolson subject to supervision and she will require to take part in the Decider Skills Programme for 18 months and co-operate in drug and alcohol programmes.

Sentence on the police assaults and abuse were deferred until December 14. Nicolson must behave, meantime and engage with social workers.

The sheriff warned that, if imposed, the sentences for such assaults would carry the heaviest of prison sentences and told a tearful Nicolson: “Let me give you the heads up. I am not mucking about. You either change and change pronto or you will be going to custody for a significant period and the fact you are 22 won’t save you.”

Sheriff Foulis will review Nicolson’s progress in four weeks and consider sentencing for the police assaults and abuse charges.

View our fact sheet on court reporting here

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