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Handyman thought he 'was going to die' in Black Isle attack, court is told


By Hector MacKenzie

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A Ross-shire man who attacked a handyman because he was taking too long to finish a house he was refurbishing has been served with a restriction of liberty order.

Brian Stirling of Jindalee Cottages, Dingwall will be confined to his home from 9pm to 7am for the next three months as an alternative to custody.

In addition, Sheriff Sara Matheson placed the 32-year-old under a year's social work supervision "to assist with your rehabilitation".

Sentence had been deferred for a background report following a trial earlier this month when Stirling denied assaulting Tony Culver on January 29, 2020 to his injury.

Defence solicitor Marc Dickson said that his client had recently been diagnosed with ADHD and the report did not assess him as posing a great risk of causing serious harm to others.

The trial heard that Mr Culver, a 50-year-old odd-job man in Ross-shire, was kicked on the head and throttled after a confrontation with Stirling, who occasionally helped him on that project.

The court was told that Stirling was a friend of the two owners of the property in Mackay Terrace, Avoch.

Stirling had similar convictions, but they were over nine years old. He did not give evidence.

Mr Culver told the court he had been working on the house since November of last year. But he added that the job was taking longer than expected.

He said Stirling had come to the property and accused him of conning his friends, demanding all their money back.

"They told me they were running out of money and I said I would do what I could to help them. Brian would come occasionally to help speed things up.

"I saw him coming to the door. I was working with filler on the floor and I said to him that he didn't look happy. He said he was not, and then I felt a blow to my head. I think it was a boot.

"Then he had his arms around my throat, strangling me. I was struggling to breathe and I thought I was going to die. There were punches as well.

"I don't know how I got out. I assumed he let me go. He said he thought I was taking advantage of the owners and trying to rip them off." Mr Culver said.

He denied that accusation to defence solicitor Marc Dickson, explaining the job was taking longer than anticipated.

He also denied attacking Stirling first and swinging a punch at him which missed.

Mr Culver replied: "I have never had a fight in my life."

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