Man with bloodied syringe told police he had HIV

A dishevelled man who was found wandering on Princes Street with a blood-stained syringe told police he was HIV positive, adding: “I have got something sharp. I don’t want to use it”.

Police were called out to the Balmoral Hotel. Picture: Eleni Laparidou

Police were called out to the five star Balmoral Hotel on Edinburgh’s Princes Street after a 999 call about a dishevelled man acting in a bizarre manner, were told he had left, but then received another 999 call about a similar incident at a nearby Top Shop.

When they arrived at the premises they were confronted by 28-year old Colin Taylor, who was in “a very agitated state” and was found to be in possession of a hypodermic syringe fitted with a blood stained needle.

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At Edinburgh Sheriff Court Taylor, a prisoner in Saughton, pled guilty to acting in a threatening and abusive manner in the Balmoral and Top Shop on February 21 this year. He also admitted being in possession of the syringe and needle and six other needles.

Fiscal Depute, Aidan Higgins, told Sheriff Michael O’Grady QC that Taylor had gone into the foyer of the hotel at around 5.30pm. “It was clear he was in a very unfit state” said the Fiscal. “He was dishevelled and acting in a bizarre manner.” A doorman asked him to leave and Taylor told him: “I have got something sharp in my pocket”. Mr Higgins said Taylor had his hands in his pockets at the time and the doorman dialled 999. Taylor left.

The officers then got the 999 call from Top Shop. The Fiscal said a member of staff stopped Tayor on the escalator and he told the person: “I don’t want to hurt anybody. I have a knife”. When the officers approached Taylor, he told them: “I don’t want to harm anyone. I have got something sharp. I don’t want to use it”.

The officers restrained him with handcuffs and, as they were doing that, saw he was holding the syringe with a needle with traces of blood on it. At the police station he was found to have another six needles on him. He also told officers he was HIV positive.

Taylor’s lawyer, Gordon Martin, said this was not the case and he had a medical certificate to that effect. His client, he added, had been on anti-psychotic medicine at the time and had been taking Paracetamol. “All he can do is apologise” he said. “At no time did he produce anything and he kept saying ‘I don’t want to hurt anybody”.

Sheriff O’Grady pointed out that Taylor had been on three bail orders at the time. Sentencing him to two years imprisonment, he told him: “You will understand this is a very serious matter. Although it was never your intention to hurt anyone, it does not bear thinking about what if things had gone wrong. The sentence I impose has not only to punish you, but to afford a measure of protection for the public”.