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Aberdeen: Men who dropped sofa 16ft on top of woman as they removed it from flat spared jail

Two men who dropped a sofa on to a woman from a height of 16ft as they moved it out of a flat, causing her serious injuries, have been spared jail.

Lee Morrison, 33, and Barrie Law, 27, attended Aberdeen Sheriff Court on Monday after previously admitting to the single charge of culpable and reckless conduct.

The incident took place on 7 December 2019, and involved the pair attempting to remove a sofa from Law’s flat in Aberdeen and dropping it from the roof of Nailco Nail Bar.

The pair told the court that they could not find another way to move the sofa out of the property.

According to the two men, they checked to see if anyone was in the area below before they dropped the sofa from a height of five metres (16ft).

However, the furniture hit Edita Butkeveiciute, a worker at the nail bar who was standing outside at the time.

Colin Neilson, fiscal depute, said: “She wasn’t aware of what happened, she woke up screaming.”

The charge states the impact has caused her “severe injury, permanent disfigurement and impairment”.

The court heard that she suffers panic attacks near tall buildings, is unable to sit for periods longer than 40 minutes, has flashbacks, and has had sleeping problems since the incident.

George Mathers, Law’s representing lawyer, said the accident would “haunt” his client for the rest of his life, and he was extremely sorry for what occurred.

He said: “When they saw the woman, he got absolutely the shock of his life. He thought she was dead, he was shaken to the core. He feels so guilt-ridden about what he has done.”

Mr Mathers added: “This will haunt him for the rest of his life.”

Debbie Ginniver, Morrison’s representing lawyer, said: “Mr Morrison certainly didn’t intend for anyone to get hurt, however, the complainer did suffer very serious injuries for his actions and he feels dreadful for that.

“It was a catastrophic error of judgment on Mr Morrison’s part. If Mr Morrison could return back to 7 December 2019 he wouldn’t make the same mistake.”

Sheriff William Summers said Ms Butkeveiciute was “in hospital for a number of weeks and is still recovering”, having suffered “life-changing” injuries.

He added: “Had it been the case that the two of you had simply dropped this sofa without taking any precautions, custody would be inevitable. But I accept you took precautions, albeit entirely inadequate.”

He added: “To put it simply, it’s hard to imagine doing anything more culpable and reckless than dropping a sofa from a roof.”

Law was ordered to pay £12,000 in compensation as well as carry out 150 hours of unpaid work over 12 months, while Morrison was ordered to pay £3,000 and also carry out 150 hours of unpaid work over 12 months.

In a statement released after the sentencing, Ms Butkeveiciute said: “What happened damaged me and has affected me for life but I don’t want those men to sit in jail.

“It was a stupid thing they did – they know that and they have to live with that. But other people in the community have attacked them or isolated them and that is wrong so I don’t want to do anything to make matters worse.

“I just want to focus on my recovery in private and move on with my life the best way I can.”

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