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Easter Ross man who sparked four-hour stand-off slammed for 'violent and cruel' attack on mother

By Ali Morrison

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Police on the scene of the stand-off incident at Burgage Drive in Tain earlier this year. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Police on the scene of the stand-off incident at Burgage Drive in Tain earlier this year. Picture: James Mackenzie.

A 44-year-old Easter Ross man attacked his pensioner mother and damaged his 91-year-old grandmother's home during a four-hour stand-off with armed police earlier this year.

When John McDonald, who was living in homeless accommodation in Inverness, appeared by video link from remand at Inverness Sheriff Court, he admitted two assaults, malicious damage, a breach of his bail and threatening or abusive behaviour.

Sheriff Eilidh MacDonald.
Sheriff Eilidh MacDonald.

Sheriff Eilidh Macdonald was told by defence solicitor John McColl that McDonald's mother had written a letter to the court which was "eloquent, of forgiveness and support."

But, jailing him for 18 months, Sheriff Macdonald told him: "This was violent and cruel conduct against your mother who is clearly kind and forgiving. It is appalling behaviour towards her and you should feel even more ashamed because she is that kind and forgiving person.

"Then you caused an almighty drama during a four hour siege in an extraordinary display of violence and attention seeking, involving armed police."

McDonald's sentence was backdated to May 18 when he was remanded in custody.

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Fiscal depute Robert Weir told the court that on May 9 2023, McDonald's mother reported several incidents involving her son which began in October 2022 when he was released from prison.

The prosecutor said his mother gave him accommodation in her home in Balintore but he began drinking and in one incident he damaged walls and doors.

"It was around this time that she was assaulted when he slapped her on the face. She was completely perplexed by the assault and couldn't understand why he had done it.

"On another occasion on May 7, 2023 he saw blue lights passing her home and was concerned that she had reported him to the police. He nipped her on the arm, causing a bruise and said 'That's for you grassing me up.'

"Police could still see the bruise when they attended and he was arrested."

Mr Weir added that McDonald went to Burgage Drive, Tain on May 17 where his grandmother was, in breach of a bail condition not to go there, and she immediately left and called the police.

McDonald was seen by officers to hold a knife at his throat, telling them he didn't want to go to jail. He broke the blade on a door but picked up another knife despite agreeing to speak to police.

"He also picked up a corkscrew and held it like a weapon and threatened to drink from a bottle of bleach. Officers heard smashing sounds coming from the house. Armed police were dispatched as it was considered a firearms incident and after three hours of negotiation, he was arrested," Mr Weir went on.

Mr MacColl told the court: "It will come as no surprise that he has had an issue with alcohol which has been the root cause of the difficulties he has suffered the whole of his adult life.

"It started in his teenage years and it is a matter of bitter regret that he slipped back into drinking to excess when he was released from prison and profound regret that he took out his problem on his mother.

"He went to the house in Tain to get some of his belongings and some cash to return to Inverness. His grandmother knew he shouldn't be there and left. He was the only person in the property and he was in a state of inebriation."

View our fact sheet on court reporting here

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