Attacker narrowly escapes jail sentence

A man’s skull was visible when he suffered a deep head wound after being struck with a piece of wood.

Michael Graham, 25, of McLaren Court, appeared on indictment and admitted assaulting a man to his severe injury and permanent disfigurement.

The victim had been arguing about a dog with a friend of the accused, and later stood outside shouting and swearing.

Graham went outside and, seeing the man had a knife, picked up a piece of wood and struck him on the head.

The Crown accepted the accused had acted under provocation.

“The accused had been with the complainer and two others, socializing at an address in Hawick,” explained procurator fiscal Morag McLintock, at a previous hearing.

“They had all been enjoying alcohol and each other’s company, when there was an argument between the complainer and a third person, about a dog.

“The complainer fell out with the person he was arguing with and that person left.”

Ms McLintock said the complainer refused to let matters go and persisted in texting the man, and challenging him to fight.

He then turned up at an address he thought the man had gone to and began shouting and swearing.

Graham, who had accompanied his friend to the address, “decided to become involved in someone else’s fight,” according to the fiscal, “and came out of the flat and into the street.

“The accused’s position is that the plea is under provocation and it is accepted that the complainer was brandishing a knife,” continued Ms McLintock.

“In response to this, he grabbed a piece of wood from a nearby tree and proceeded to strike the man on the head with it.”

An ambulance was called and the victim was taken to Borders General Hospital where he was found to have a 2-3cm laceration to his forehead.

“It was deep and his skull could be seen at the base of the wound,” explained Ms McLintock.

“It required five sutures, steri-strips and a dressing, and he will have a permanent scar on his forehead as a result.”

Investigations led police to the accused and he cooperated fully with them.

A knife was retrieved near the scene and the complainer’s DNA found on the handle.

Graham admitted hitting the man with a piece of wood, but said he did it because he had a knife.

Defence lawyer Rory Bannerman confirmed his client’s guilty plea was tendered under provocation. “He sought as peacemaker in an argument about a dog, and went with his friend to the house.

“When the other man returned, he should have kept out of it, but instead went outside with his friend and got involved.

“When he saw the man had a knife, he picked up a piece of wood and hit him with it,” concluded Mr Bannerman.

Graham was placed on probation for 12 months, with a condition he performs 160 hours’ community service and attends the Borders Alcohol Programme.

Sheriff Donald Corke warned Graham: “Normally something like this would attract a custodial sentence, but in the circumstances I am prepared to consider the alternative to custody.”