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Easter Ross man jailed for 42 months at High Court in Edinburgh after meat cleaver attack

By Court Reporter

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The High Court in Edinburgh.
The High Court in Edinburgh.

A MAN who carried out a savage attack armed with a meat cleaver was jailed for 42 months today.

Campbell Leiper struck Angus Stewart on the neck with the weapon during a struggle outside his home in Easter Ross.

A judge told Leiper that although the victim sustained a deep laceration to his neck fortunately there were no lasting injuries.

Lady Scott told him at the High Court in Edinburgh: "You persisted in the attack using potentially lethal weapons."

Leiper (55) had originally faced a charge of attempted murder, but the Crown accepted his guilty plea to a reduced offence of assault to severe injury and permanent disfigurement.

He attacked Mr Stewart (39) at Munro Crescent, in Kildary, near Invergordon, on March 23 this year by repeatedly punching him, striking his head off the ground, striking him with a garden fork on the legs, stamping on his legs and hitting him with the cleaver.

Lady Scott told Leiper that she would have jailed him for five years, but for his early guilty plea.

She said: "This offence and all your offending is rooted in your chronic alcohol addiction."

The judge told him: "I very much hope you will use this sentence to address your addiction while in prison."

She said she also took into account that at the time of the latest crime Leiper was struggling with the conduct of others who had taken over his house to use as a drinking den.

Unemployed Leiper, who left school to join the circus before becoming a scaffolder, has previous convictions for assault, disorder and knife possession.

The court heard that on the day before the attack the victim and his brother were at Leiper's home along with another man.

They were all drinking but before the others left Leiper fell out with Mr Stewart's brother.

The following night Mr Stewart turned up at Leiper's home with a garden fork which he used to bang on the windows. One of the windows was smashed.

Leiper went to the back door and was shouting at him after picking up the cleaver.

The court was told that a neighbour saw them "going for each other". Mr Stewart dropped the garden fork and both men ended up on the ground.

Leiper got on top of the other man and banged his head on the ground and struck him with the cleaver on the neck during the assault.

A neighbour saw the attack victim struggling to get to his feet and leaving the scene using a fence to help him along.

Mr Stewart made his way to his nearby home and used a sheet to try to stem the bleeding.

Leiper made a 999 call on the morning of March 24 and said someone had "put his windows in" and that he had "battered him in the back garden yesterday", said advocate depute Alan Cameron.

Police attended and found Leiper intoxicated and uncooperative and he indicated that he did not want anything done about the smashed window.

Mr Stewart's mother also contacted the police reporting that her son had been assaulted and officers found him in an obviously injured condition.

He was taken to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness by ambulance and seen to have a wound running for 10 centimetres from below the left ear across the back of his neck.

He was taken to an operating theatre to explore, clean and suture the wound and was left with a scar.

Leiper was traced that night to an address in Alness and was arrested but was so heavily intoxicated he could not be interviewed. He was later questioned on March 26 and made no comment.

Defence solicitor advocate Shahid Latif said that Leiper accepted he must bear the consequences of his actions.

He said: "He has tried to self medicate by the use of alcohol to various degrees throughout his adult life."

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