Aberdeen man jailed for assault on drug dealer

Edinburgh High Court. Picture: Lewis Houghton/TSPL
Edinburgh High Court. Picture: Lewis Houghton/TSPL
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A MAN has been jailed for attacking and seriously injuring a drugs supplier who died weeks after the assault.

James McAllister, 30, arranged to buy crack cocaine from Joseph Merrick, 47, in Aberdeen but “the deal went wrong”, a court heard.

McAllister punched him twice to the head, breaking his jaw, and he also went over on his ankle which fractured in the fall.

Merrick underwent surgery on his injuries and would have been expected to recover and be discharged, the High Court in Edinburgh was told, but he died in hospital some ten weeks later.

McAllister, of Sumburgh Crescent, Aberdeen, whose criminal record included a five-year sentence for assault, was charged with the culpable homicide of Merrick but after “lengthy consultations with a pathologist” about “particular complexities of the medical evidence” the Crown accepted a guilty plea to the lesser offence of assault to severe injury.

The court heard that Merrick had moved from Birmingham to Aberdeen in May last year and set up his drug dealing operation from a rented room in the Bridge of Don area of the city.

The defence counsel, Jack Davidson, QC, said McAllister had been free of drugs for some time but was upset when his partner suffered a miscarriage.

“This was a drug deal that sadly went wrong. The last thing he expected was to become involved in this kind of incident. The assault was spontaneous and not premeditated or planned. He is regretful and remorseful for what happened. His position is he reacted to an initial punch thrown by Mr Merrick and thereafter carried out the assault,” added Mr Davidson.

Lord Burns said he accepted the charge had been much reduced, but it remained a serious offence. Drugs were obviously the catalyst for McAllister’s violent behaviour, he added.

“Having regard to your record...it is clear to me a sentence of imprisonment is inevitable, and also, for the protection of the public, some element of supervision post release is required,” said the judge.

McAllister was jailed for two and a half years, to be followed by 12 months’ supervision.