Student injures 77-year-old pensioner in assault

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An 18-year-old who had been to a party then drank tequila shots at an Islay bar was so drunk he thought a 77-year-old woman was attacking him and acted in self-defence.

The elderly holidaymaker ‘was sent flying’, her partner said when he gave evidence at the trial of David John Morris.

The 6ft 3in tall engineering student denied assaulting and seriously injuring the woman in the bar at the Bowmore Hotel, Islay, on August 22 last year, permanently disfiguring her with a scar on the back of her head from where she had struck the floor when she fell after he pushed her.

The woman was angry that a slice of lemon and ice had landed on her when Morris threw them.

She told the trial: ‘The young man came past me and, as he passed, he just tossed his glass so the contents landed on my dress – ice and lemon. He looked at us, just tossed it and walked on.’

Angrily, she scooped them up and went up to the bar and confronted him.

‘I was looking for an apology; I was soaked, shocked,’ she said, adding: ‘Because he was tall I held it up.’

The next thing she remembered she was on the floor.

‘I remember I was lying on the floor, waking up, wondering what happened,’ she recalled. ‘There was so much blood; I was covered.’

The woman said that Morris either picked her up by her jacket and threw her or pushed her.

‘It happened so fast,’ she said.

An ambulance was called; she was taken to hospital and needed to have the wound in the back of her head stitched.

This was still sore and she suffers from headaches, she told Sheriff Patrick Hughes at the October sitting of Campbeltown Sheriff Court.

Her partner told the police in his statement that Morris had pushed her ‘with both hands on her chest’.

He told the court: ‘She just comes flying past us; no-one comes back like that without some force.’

He went up to Morris and said to him: ‘Do you realise what you’ve just done? She’s an old woman, a 77-year-old woman; you can’t be doing something like that.’

But the man also said Morris ‘seemed to be in shock’.

Morris, of 3 Elder Crescent, Bowmore, said in his evidence that he had been at a birthday party before going to the hotel bar where he and friends had tequila shots, with salt and lemon.

‘I was quite intoxicated, it was blurry but I can remember some things,’ he said.

Morris gave his height as 6ft 3in and said the woman came up to his chest height.

‘I was facing the bar,’ he said, ‘I had my back to her and turned round. As soon as I turned round I had this lemon up into my face and shouting at me.’

He said it was ‘just a fright, really’ and that he ‘didn’t know what was happening’.

‘From there on it went a bit blurry,’ he said. ‘It was a bit of a shock.’

Morris’s defence agent put forward a special defence of self-defence saying that the young man had reacted to the perceived level of threat.

He also argued this was not a case of permanent disfigurement as the scar was hidden under the woman’s hairline.

Finding Morris guilty, Sheriff Hughes said: ‘I have no doubt what happened was an assault and there is no justification for self-defence.’

He also said the scar from the head wound was permanent disfigurement.

The sheriff ordered that reports be prepared on Morris saying that the matter ‘crosses the custody threshold’ but, given Morris’s youth and unblemished record, he would look at alternatives.

The case will call again at the court’s November sitting.