Student spared jail after assault

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Lancaster University student, Douglas Anderson, recently walked free from court after assaulting a five-year-old girl and chasing her grandmother in his hometown of Paisley in Scotland.

The case was adjourned by Paisley Sheriff James Spy after it was put to the courtroom by defending solicitor Amy Spencer that the attack occurred after Anderson had consumed alcohol while he was also on prescribed anti-depression medication. Spencer elaborated saying that “he accepts he voluntarily took alcohol on that day and doesn’t shy away from that.”

The 28-year-old master’s student pleaded guilty to the assault of the child while she was with her grandmother in Barshaw Park, Paisley in August earlier on this year. The child, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was slapped hard enough that she fell off of her bicycle and was left in a troubled state. The court also heard from Fiscal Depute, Nikki Gibbons, who said that “when the [grandmother] went to try to check if she was alright and assist, he acted in an aggressive manner and chased her away.”

A knuckleduster, an offensive weapon, was found on Anderson after the event which left fellow citizens in the nearby area in a state of shock and fear. Paramedics were called to the scene and the young girl was found to have suffered grazing around her left eye and some reddening to her cheek.

Spy deferred Anderson’s sentence after a request by defence solicitor Paul Lynch for clarification from social workers and a psychiatrist on Anderson’s mental state during the period of the assault. Lynch told the Anderson: “I wish to have some further medical information regarding what was going on with you around the time this incident took place.”

When Anderson returned to the dock, Spencer informed the court that after being assessed by a psychiatrist he was not found to be suffering from any mental illness “which would require treatment under the mental health act.” At this time, Spencer also professed that Anderson was aware how “fortunate he [was] not to be going to custody today for such a serious offense.” The psychiatrist stated that the “prescribed medication was not a factor in [Anderson’s] behaviour or actions that day.”

Despite this, Spy spared Anderson from jail after hearing that he was currently studying at Lancaster University after previously obtaining a First Class Honours degree in Biology at the University of Glasgow. Anderson was placed on a community order for 15-months where he will be supervised by social workers.

Anderson has also been given one year to complete 250 hours of unpaid voluntary work in the community, while also attending counselling regarding his consumption of alcohol, use of drugs and his mental health. This order has been transferred to Lancaster Magistrates Court for enforcement.

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