Published: 12/01/2012 10:49 - Updated: 12/01/2012 12:39

White witch party bottle attack man jailed

Howell is led away to start his sentence
Howell is led away to start his sentence

A man convicted of a bottle attack at a midsummer party for white witches at a guest house in Inverness has been jailed for two years at Inverness Sheriff Court.

Stuart Howell, (31), of Laurel Avenue, Inverness, was out on licence at the time of the offence on June 20 last year.

He had previously been jailed at the High Court in Edinburgh for five years for assault and robbery in 2005 with an extended sentence of three years.

Sheriff Ian Abercrombie deferred sentence on Howell at Inverness on December 13 when he was found guilty by a jury of assaulting 43 year-old Mark McCann by striking him on the head with a bottle to his injury and permanent disfigurement at an address in Island Bank Road.

The Sheriff said last month it was appropriate Howell be referred back to the High Court for breach of his licence.

The Sheriff was told Howell had been jailed for 18 months. Sheriff Abercrombie said the two year sentence he was imposing would run consecutively so Howell now faces another three and a half year jail term.

At the trial in Inverness the court heard how guests had gathered in a circle to pray for one of their friends who was to go into hospital to undergo an operation.

Howell, who did not know Mr McCann, had been invited as a guest but because of Howell’s behaviour and that of his partner they were asked to leave the party.

Mr McCann, an energy surveyor, said in his evidence he had been in the driveway trying to get Howell to come back and assist his partner who fell and knocked her head on steps outside the house.

Mr McCann said she was drunk and went into the middle of the circle and made a fool of herself. He said it was embarrassing and distressing for everyone involved.

Mr McCann said when the couple were asked to leave he went after Howell to come back and help his girlfriend after her fall.

He said when he was struck his glasses came off and he sustained cuts to his forehead nose and lip and was bleeding heavily. He went after Howell but he ran off into the Ness Islands.

Mr Michael Chapman, solicitor advocate for Howell said he did not wish to minimise or trivialise the matter but he said there appeared to be a degree of verbal aggression by Mr McCann.

"It’s a serious matter and both parties should be thankful the injuries were not what they might have been."

Mr Chapman said Howell had met his partner in February 2010 and they had a child together and she already had five children. "He is attempting to address his offending behaviour."

Sheriff Abercrombie said it was a "nasty assault" and it was very fortunate there was no permanent damage to Mr McCaan.

"In the light of your record I have no alternative to impose a custodial sentence."

He said the two year jail term would be consecutive to the 18 months he had been sentenced to at the High Court.

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